The coronavirus vaccine race is entering its last legs as Monday marked the beginning of the first large study that tests the safety and effectiveness of the treatment in the United States. A collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and Moderna, a biotech company, revealed the news.
According to The New York Times, during a news briefing, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Dr Anthony Fauci, said the first shot of the trial vaccine was given to a volunteer in Savannah, Georgia.
The Phase 3 clinical trial study aims to enroll at least 30,000 health individuals from 89 different areas across the country for the summer tests. Half of the subjects will be given two shots of the vaccine 28 days apart, and the other half will be shot with two sets of saltwater placebo.
The volunteers and medical staff giving the shots will not know which of the injections contain the real vaccine. The researchers will continue to monitor the subjects after the trials to see if any side effects arise.
The main objective of the tests will be to see if there are fewer infections among the individuals who were vaccinated to determine its effectiveness in battling against the disease. They also aim to see if the vaccines prevent severe cases of COVID-19 and death.
Pfizer, another contender for the first coronavirus vaccine, announced on Monday that it was also in its late-stage testing for an effective treatment. The pharmaceutical company has been working together with BioNTech, a German company, to develop a vaccine for the virus.
The study by Pfizer will similarly enroll 30,000 subjects from 39 different states across the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Germany. The University of Rochester hosted the first subjects being injected with the first shots of the vaccine on Monday.
Curing the world
The United States government previously agreed to purchase almost $2 billion worth of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech that would give them 100 million doses of the experimental treatments. The US will provide the vaccines to its citizens for free, and Pfizer is looking to roll-out its application for emergency use authorization in October, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Despite several vaccines in the works, none have proven to safely work against the coronavirus as many treatments developed for other pathogens have failed during testing trials, especially in Phase 3 tests.
On Monday, US officials stated the development of the new experimental vaccine was the quickest among its predecessors to reach Phase 3 trials from its initial design.
Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said during a conference call on Monday that while they were working quickly with the vaccine's development, they did not compromise the safety or effectiveness of the treatments.
The beginning of the late-stage trials by Moderna mark the start of the final phases of the coronavirus vaccine testing that suggests the use of the treatment could come before the end of the year if results prove to be positive.