US researchers give the first shot to the first person in a test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine — leading off a worldwide hunt for protection even as the pandemic surges.
With a careful jab in a healthy volunteer’s arm, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle begin today an anxiously awaited first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time after the new virus exploded from China and fanned across the globe.
“We’re team coronavirus now,” Kaiser Permanente study leader Dr. Lisa Jackson said on the eve of the experiment. “Everyone wants to do what they can in this emergency.”
The Associated Press observes as the study’s first participant, an operations manager at a small tech company, receives the injection inside an exam room. Several others are next in line for a test that will ultimately give 45 volunteers two doses, a month apart.
“We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” says Jennifer Haller, 43, of Seattle.
Today’s milestone marks just the beginning of a series of studies in people needed to prove whether the shots are safe and could work. Even if the research goes well, a vaccine wouldn’t be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months, said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the US National Institutes of Health. That’s still important if the virus becomes a long-term threat.
This vaccine candidate, code-named mRNA-1273, was developed by the NIH and Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna Inc. There’s no chance participants could get infected from the shots because they don’t contain the coronavirus itself.
Note: mRNA-1273 is an mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus encoding for a prefusion stabilized form of the Spike (S) protein, which was selected by Moderna in collaboration with investigators at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC). Manufacture of this batch was funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). mRNA-1273 is an mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus encoding for a prefusion stabilized form of the Spike (S) protein, which was designed by Moderna in collaboration with NIAID. The S protein complex is necessary for membrane fusion and host cell infection and has been the target of vaccines against the coronaviruses responsible for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).