COVID-19 vaccine begins human trials

There is always light after dark, and it seems that we may have come to the end of dark times as a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is now being tested in Seattle. The first person to receive the vaccine got injected on Monday, 16th March. The vaccine named mRNA-1273 was developed by a biotech company named Moderna, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health(NIH). The trial was carried out at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, located in Seattle.

The study has many phases, and phase 1 is planned to be tested upon 45 healthy adults. The volunteers will get two shots in the span of 28 days, and the safety and immunity provided by the vaccine shall be tested here. That is how well the vaccine can respond to a protein on the virus’s attack is judged and checked here. The first vaccine test was carried out on 43-year old Jennifer Haller, who wanted to get a working vaccine as soon as possible so as to save more lives.

The M.D and CMO of the institute, Tal Zaks, said that “This study is the first step in the clinical development of an mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, and we expect it to provide important information about safety and immunogenicity.” He also mentioned that Moderna was already working with the FDA and other organizations to start with trials for phase 2, which included more and more people. This trial comes exactly 65 days after China sequenced the virus, and exactly 63 days after the company started fixed the vaccine’s design and started planning on how to manufacture it.

The first batch was ready as of 7th February, and on 24th February, the first shipment was sent to NIH. An important thing to note about the vaccine is that it also does not directly contain the COVID-19 virus. It instead has the RNA of the virus, which was taken out and expanded in the laboratory. The mRNA in question has an integral part of the virus to take control and access the human cell. The scientists and researchers hope that the mRNA is enough for the immune system to respond and thus make them immune to the actual virus.

This vaccine has been highly talked about as it was not tested in mice; it was instead directly taken to human trials. The study is currently taking in healthy adults from the 18-55 age group in Seattle.

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