Going by the results of an early data released by Moderna Inc’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine, which was the first to be tested in the United States, the vaccine produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers, said the biotech company.
The data comes after a small study on 8 people were done in a 45 safety trial that kicked off in March.
Moderna’s vaccine is one of many COVID-19 vaccines that are under development from the deadly coronavirus disease, which emerged from Wuhan, China, which has infected 4.7 million people and killed more than 317,000.
The study on the small group showed that it was safe and all study participants were able to produce antibodies against the COVID19 disease.
According to an analysis of the response in the eight individuals, those who received a 100 microgram dose as well as those who received a 25 microgram dose were able to produce protective antibodies to fend of the virus. The number of antibodies found in the bloodstream of those who received the vaccine were more than found in the bloodstream of COVID-19 recovered patients.
“These are significant findings but it is a Phase 1 clinical trial that only included eight people. It was designed for safety, not for efficacy,” said Dr Amesh Adalja, in infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who was not involved in the study.
The very early data offers a glimmer of hope for a vaccine.
Although glitches could occur between now and the time this vaccine is tested for efficacy in thousands of patients, said Adalja “What we do see is encouraging”.
Moderna’s vaccine has got the go ahead for start of a second stage trials of human testing.
Phase II trials are designed to further test the effectiveness of the vaccine as well as find out the optimal dosage, said Moderna.
“We are investing to scale up manufacturing so we can maximize the number of doses we can produce to help protect as many people as we can from SARS-CoV-2,” said Moderna’s Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel.
According to the company’s Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks, Moderna is working out a plan to provide vaccine to countries outside of the U.S.
“The U.S. is poised to be the first beneficiary of this vaccine,” said Zaks, adding that the company believes it has an “ethical obligation to make this vaccine available to whoever needs it globally.”
Moderna said it expects to start Phase III trials in July.
The most notable side effects reported from the early testing of Moderna’s vaccine were three participants with “flu-like” symptoms following a second shot of the highest dose. Moderna believes the symptoms were an indirect measure of a strong immune response.