Headlines March 18, 2020
First human trial of coronavirus vaccine begins in US
The first human trial to evaluate a possible vaccine against the new coronavirus has begun in Seattle in the United States. This has raised hopes in the global fight against the disease. However, it may take almost two years before it becomes available. It will have to pass through more trial phases to prove that it is effective and safe.
The vaccine is called mRNA-1273 and was developed by scientists at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and biotechnology company Moderna. The trial will enrol 45 healthy adult volunteers from 18 to 55 years over a period of six week. “The first participant received the investigational vaccine this week”, said NIH.
There are currently no approved vaccines or treatments against the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19. It has infected over 175,000 people across the world since it was first identified in central China in late December.
It has claimed 7,000 lives.
Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority. This Phase 1 study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal. – Anthony Fauci, Head of Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
The trial will study the impact of different doses delivered by intramuscular injection in the upper arm. Participants will be monitored for side-effects like soreness or fever.
Pharmaceuticals and research labs around the world are racing to develop both treatments and vaccines to the new coronavirus. An antiviral treatment called remdesivir, made by US-based Gilead Sciences, is already in the final stages of clinical trials in Asia and doctors in China have reported it has proven effective in fighting the disease.
According to the World Health Organization, 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild, 14% are severe and about 5% are critical, resulting in severe respiratory illness. Patients with mild cases recover in a week or two while severe cases can take six or more weeks.
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