Government official: Coronavirus vaccine trial begins Monday

A Protein Sciences researcher searches for a vial in a lab Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Meriden, Connecticut. The biotech company is currently researching a vaccine against COVID-19. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The first participant in a clinical trial of a vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus will receive an experimental dose on Monday, according to a government official.

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 leaked the plans of the first participant spoke on condition of anonymity, as the decision was not publicly announced.

Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.

Testing will begin with 45 healthy young volunteers with different doses of vaccines co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. There is no chance that participants will be infected with the vaccines, as they do not contain the virus itself. same. The aim is purely to verify that the vaccines do not have worrisome side effects, thus paving the way for more extensive testing.

Dozens of research groups around the world are rushing to create a vaccine as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. Above all, they are looking for different types of vaccines – injections developed from new technologies that are not only faster to produce than traditional inoculations, but could turn out to be more potent. Some researchers are even targeting temporary vaccines, such as injections that could protect people’s health for a month or two at a time while more lasting protection is developed.

Also in the works: Inovio Pharmaceuticals aims to begin safety testing of its vaccine candidate next month on a few dozen volunteers at the University of Pennsylvania and a testing center in Kansas City, Missouri, followed by a similar study in China and South Korea.

Even if the initial safety tests go well, “you’re talking about a year to a year and a half” before a vaccine can be ready for widespread use, according to Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Humanities. NIH allergies and infectious diseases. .

It would still be a record pace. But the manufacturers know that the wait – necessary because it takes additional studies on thousands of people to tell whether a vaccine really protects and doesn’t harm – is difficult for a frightened public.

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

Today, there is no proven treatment. In China, scientists tested a combination of anti-HIV drugs against the new coronavirus, as well as an experimental drug called remdesivir that was in development to fight Ebola. In the United States, the University of Nebraska Medical Center has also started testing remdesivir in some Americans who were found to have COVID-19 after being evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially the elderly and people with existing health problems, it can cause more serious illness, including pneumonia. The global epidemic has sickened more than 156,000 people and killed more than 5,800. The death toll in the United States is over 50, while infections have approached 3,000 in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Department of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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