Moderna claims its COVID-19 vaccine produces a “robust” immune response.
Scientists around the world will continue to search for a vaccine that will help slow the spread of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, and breakthroughs will begin.
The first results reveal that the mRNA-1273 vaccine, treated to protect against the coronavirus, generates a “robust” immune response in the 45 patients they test, according to Moderna, one of the companies created. The news has skyrocketed the company’s shares by more than 16%.
The experimental vaccine, aimed at conducting the final tests, is being jointly developed by researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Moderna. Its function is to induce neutralizing antibodies directed to a part of the coronavirus “spike” protein, which the virus uses to bind and enter human cells.
The trial was led by Lisa A. Jackson of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, USA, where the first volunteer was vaccinated on March 16. This interim report details the initial findings of the first 45 participants, ages 18 to 55.
Three groups of 15 participants received two intramuscular injections, 28 days apart, with three different dosages of 25, 100, or 250 micrograms (mcg) of the vaccine. The positive antibody response occurred in all three groups, regardless of the dose received. The duration of the antibodies is unknown at this time, but patients will be studied over the next year to learn how levels evolve.
In April, the trial was expanded to enroll adults over 55 and now has 120 participants. But the results have not yet come to light. However, the most important moment will come at the end of June, on the 27th, when a study will be carried out with 30,000 people to verify the real strength of the vaccines in protecting us against the coronavirus.
With hardly any side effects
After trying the vaccine, no serious side effects appeared. But more than half of the study participants said they had felt reactions similar to those caused by other vaccines, such as fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and pain at the injection site. In three participants who received the highest dose, these reactions were more severe, so efforts will be made to avoid providing that dose.
“It is a small price to pay for protection against COVID,” said Dr. William Schaffner of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He also called these results “a good first step” and confessed that he was confident that the final tests can yield answers about their effectiveness in early 2021: “It would be wonderful. But that is assuming that everything goes according to plan. ”
Over twenty possible vaccines against COVID-19 are in different stages of testing around the world. Some developed in China and the University of Oxford in Great Britain are also close to entering the final stretch. And people can now start volunteering for the various studies.
The study of 30,000 people will be the largest in the world to date to search for a possible vaccine against COVID-19. And the United States is not the only country that is considering a study of these dimensions. The Government plans studies of similar size for the Oxford vaccine and one from Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer Inc. plans its own separate study.
“People think it is a race with only one winner,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Nothing is further from reality: “We need multiple vaccines. We need vaccines for everyone, not just for our country. ”Hence, governments around the world are already investing to acquire hundreds of millions of doses from different candidates to accelerate the vaccination process in case its effectiveness is proven.