REPORT: Clinical Trial for Potential COVID-19 Vaccine to Begin Monday

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Posted: Mar 16, 2020 12:50 AM
REPORT: Clinical Trial for Potential COVID-19 Vaccine to Begin Monday

Source: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The Associated Press is reporting that the first dose of a potential vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus will be administered in a clinical trial that begins on Monday. There is currently no vaccine to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Earlier reporting suggested that clinical trials for potential COVID-19 vaccines would not begin until April, but the AP is now citing a government official who says a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine will soon be underway in Washington state. According to a public health official cited in the report, it will take between a year and 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine for the Wuhan virus. 

(Via the AP)

The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. The official who disclosed plans for the first participant spoke on condition of anonymity because the move has not been publicly announced. ...

Testing will begin with 45 young, healthy volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. There’s no chance participants could get infected from the shots, because they don’t contain the virus itself. The goal is purely to check that the vaccines show no worrisome side effects, setting the stage for larger tests. ...

Even if initial safety tests go well, “you’re talking about a year to a year and a half” before any vaccine could be ready for widespread use, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

That still would be a record-setting pace. But manufacturers know the wait — required because it takes additional studies of thousands of people to tell if a vaccine truly protects and does no harm — is hard for a frightened public.

President Donald Trump has been pushing for swift action on a vaccine, saying in recent days that the work is “moving along very quickly” and he hopes to see a vaccine “relatively soon.”

Researches around the world are working on potential coronavirus vaccines, including a German firm that was developing multiple potential vaccines and looking to begin clinical trials in the near future. A research team in Israel has also said they might be just weeks away from a possible vaccine that could be available in around 90 days, pending the outcome of clinical trials and other regulatory hurdles. 

Congress recently allocated more than $3 billion for research funding to help develop a potential vaccine for the Wuhan virus. As of Sunday, around 60 people have died and more than 2,900 have tested positive for the Wuhan virus in the United States. States and local governments are stepping up measures to help stop the spread of the infectious disease.