US Biotech Firm Moderna Ships Experimental Coronavirus Vaccine To US Govt. Scientists

It was just six weeks back that the United States biotech firm Moderna had started work on the development of a drug for immunization against the coronavirus and it has now reportedly sent an experimental coronavirus vaccine to the US government researchers.

While it could be as early as April that the initial trials for the potential vaccine could start, it could take as much as at least a year for approvals to be given for the tests.

The US the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have been shipped the first batch of its novel coronavirus vaccine, called mRNA-1273, Moderna said in a statement on Monday.

This announcement pushed the stock of the company, based near Boston, higher by about 15 per cent in New York.

A planned Phase 1 study in the United States will make use of the first vials of the experimental vaccine, Moderna said. This phase comprises of subjecting a  small number of healthy humans to the vaccine for testing it.

The NIAID could begin a clinical trial of the experimental vaccine by the end of April and which will be the “first step” in possibly making a vaccine available for use for the deadly virus, said the Director of NIAID Anthony Fauci.

Initially two doses of the experimental vaccine will be tested on human volunteers and the scientists will then examine whether an immune response is produced by it which could be able to protect humans against the attack of the virus, reported the Wall Street Journal. 45 people would participate in the trial, Fauci told the media.

But before the vaccine could be deployed widely against the coronavirus, it would require more testing and approvals, even if the initial clinical tests turn out to be successful.

There is a race among a number of pharmaceutical companies and health officials across the world to either come up with a treatment for the coronavirus or a vaccine against it. So far more than 80,000 people around the world have been infected and more than 2,700 killed by the deadly virus.

However for situations where the targeted disease is causing harm and spreading, it could be possible to expedite the approval process for a vaccine if the Phase 1 trials are successful do that it could be quickly used to control the spread of the virus, Fauci had said previously.

He however said on Tuesday that a vaccine would be available for practical usage to vaccinate the population against the coronavirus only after a period of at least a year or 18 months even if the testing and approval is conducted at an “emergency speed”.

Apart from Moderna, there are a number of other companies that are trying to find a vaccine for the virus.

Work on a coronavirus vaccine is currently being done by pharma giants Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline as well as by government scientists including some at NIAID.

(Adapted from CNN.com)

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