Drugmaker, Feds Fast-Track Coronavirus Vaccine Effort — Human Trials Could Begin in Few Months

Doctor Paul McKay, who is working on an vaccine for the 2019-nCoV strain of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19,, poses for a photograph using a microscope to look at bacteria containing coronavirus, Covid-19, DNA fragments, in a research lab at Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) in London on February 10, …
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Calling it an “indoor record,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that a potential vaccine for the coronavirus going from launch to human trials in just a few months “is a stunningly fast response to an emerging outbreak,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The move comes as the virus, which originated in China, has been spreading around the globe. Only 57 cases have been diagnosed in the United States.

Drugmaker Moderna Inc. has shipped the first batch of “rapidly developed coronavirus vaccine” to federal government researchers, WSJ reported:

Moderna on Monday sent vaccine vials from its Norwood, Mass., manufacturing plant to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., the company said. The institute expects by the end of April to start a clinical trial of about 20 to 25 healthy volunteers, testing whether two doses of the shot are safe and induce an immune response likely to protect against infection, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said in an interview. Initial results could become available in July or August.

The institute expects by the end of April to start a clinical trial of about 20 to 25 healthy volunteers, testing whether two doses of the shot are safe and induce an immune response likely to protect against infection, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said in an interview. Initial results could become available in July or August.

In the past, researchers scrambled to develop vaccines in response to outbreaks such as SARS, Ebola and Zika with mixed results. Older types of vaccines are developed from viral proteins that must be grown in eggs or cell cultures, and together with animal testing it can take years before a vaccine can be used in humans.

“Going into a Phase One trial within three months of getting the sequence is unquestionably the world indoor record,” Fauci said. “Nothing has ever gone that fast.”

But the faster development does not guarantee success.

“You’re never sure until you’re at the end what you have,” Bruce Gellin, president of global immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, said in the WSJ report and added that there are other coronavirus vaccines in the works.

“The sequence of testing is designed to sort out what works from what doesn’t,” Gellin said. “That’s why it’s important to try as many things as possible that seem feasible, because not all horses will finish the race.”

And quick may only refer to getting off the starting block. WSJ reported:

It is uncertain whether Moderna’s vaccine will work because its gene-based technology hasn’t yet yielded an approved human vaccine. And even if the first study is positive, the coronavirus vaccine might not become widely available until next year because further studies and regulatory clearances will be needed, Dr. Fauci said.

No matter, Fauci said the only way to stop these kind of infectious diseases is through vaccination.

“The only way you can completely suppress an emerging infectious disease is with a vaccine,” Fauci said. “If you want to really get it quickly, you’re using technologies that are not as time-honored as the standard, what I call antiquated, way of doing it.”

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