Coronavirus vaccine trial begins on humans in US as global death toll crosses 7,000

Kashmir Times. Dated: 3/18/2020 12:23:52 PM

NEW YORK, Mar 17 (Agencies): Amid lockdown in several countries and growing concerns over Coronavirus outbreak, the first human trial of a vaccine for the novel Coronavirus has begun in the United States. According to reports, this is the first phase of the clinical trial of an investigational vaccine designed to protect against the coronavirus disease, which has claimed the lives of over 7,000 people globally.
The trial, which is being supported by a global coalition founded by India and Norway, began at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle as the first participant received the investigational vaccine.
"I'm pleased to report today that a vaccine candidate has begun the phase one clinical trial. This is one of the fastest vaccine development launches in history. Not even close. We're also racing to develop antiviral therapies and other treatments," US President Donald Trump told reporters at a White House news conference on Monday.
The private company, Moderna, which developed the vaccine, said that it had been injected to the first volunteer in Phase I of the trial. Forty-five volunteers are participating in the trial. Called mRNA-1273, it has to go through two more phases of trials to check for side effects and for efficacy before it can be deployed for mass vaccinations and the process can take at least a year.
Moderna added that it was already preparing for Phase II trials of the vaccine, which could start in a few months. Trump said efforts to develop medications to treat the disease were also moving fast. "We`re also racing to develop antiviral therapies and other treatments. And we`ve had some promising results -- early results, but promising -- to reduce the severity and the duration of the symptoms," he said.
Anthony Fauci, the administration`s leading scientist dealing with the coronavirus crisis, said that he had expected it would take two to three months before the vaccine could be ready for trial, but it was ready in 65 days. "I believe (this) is the record."
The 45 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 "will be followed for one year - both for safety and whether it induces the kind of response that we predict would be protective", he said. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of the National Institute of Health (NIH), which is collaborating with Moderna in developing the vaccine.
In the first phase, Fauci said that the volunteers will be given "two injections: one at zero-day - first one; then 28 (after) days, there will be three separate doses: 25 milligrams, 100 milligrams, 250 milligrams".
Moderna said it "continues to prepare for rapid acceleration of its manufacturing capabilities that could allow for the future manufacture of millions of doses should mRNA-1273 prove to be safe and effective". The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) supported the manufacturing of the vaccine candidate for the Phase 1 clinical trial.
Conceived in 2015, CEPI was founded in Davos in 2017 by the governments of Norway and India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the World Economic Forum.
According to its website, CEPI so far has secured USD 760 million toward its USD 1 billion funding target, with multi-year funding from Norway, the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, Ethiopia, Australia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wellcome.
The number of deaths due to coronavirus has passed 7,000 worldwide. More than 175,530 cases have been recorded in 145 countries.

 

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