The first results of human clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna Therapeutics have been released. Eight volunteers who received a dose of the vaccine found antibodies to coronavirus in their blood. The publication of the news caused a 20% increase in the company’s shares.
The tests were conducted in Seattle by specialists from Moderna Therapeutics and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Eight participants who have developed antibodies to coronavirus are among the 45 volunteers from the first stage of clinical trials, whose main goal is to confirm the safety of the vaccine. The analysis showed that both those who received 25 micrograms of the vaccine, and those whose dose was 100 micrograms, the level of antibodies in the blood was not lower than in patients who had had COVID-19.
“These are important results, but so far this is a clinical trial of the first phase, in which only eight people took part. It was designed to test safety, not effectiveness, ”commented Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins University Health Safety Center. Scientists have yet to determine what level of antibodies in the blood provides reliable protection against coronavirus and how long this protection will be. The second phase of clinical trials will be devoted to elucidating this, permission for which has already been received in an expedited manner from US regulatory authorities. One change is known: the developers refused to use the largest dose of the vaccine in 250 micrograms and instead introduced a small dose of 50 mcg. Reducing the dose needed to obtain immunity can help save the amount of vaccine needed for each patient.
In parallel, the development of a vaccine against coronavirus infection in several countries. According to the World Health Organization, 76 vaccine options are currently being prepared. Scientists from the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca are still testing their vaccines on macaques. They have already proven that this vaccine prevents the development of pneumonia, but so far it does not block the infection of the virus. The French pharmaceutical company Sanofi plans to begin testing its vaccine in humans in the second half of 2020, and within a year thereafter, launch its production together with the British company GSK. They are expected to produce up to 600 million doses per year. Trials of the vaccine that Johnson & Johnson is working on are due to begin in September. Five vaccines are being tested in China. One of them is made on the basis of an adenoviral vector, the other four – using inactivated coronavirus.