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COVID-19: Second phase of vaccine trial yields positive result

COVID-19: Second phase of vaccine trial yields positive result
July 15
09:20 2020

An experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna Therapeutics, a US biotech firm, has generated a positive response in a second human trial.

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The trial, which involved 45 healthy volunteers, was designed to test the safety of the vaccine.

The result which showed the vaccine’s effectiveness is contained in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, on Tuesday.

The biotech firm first announced positive interim clinical data from the phase one of the study led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) on May 18.

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The 45 participants, aged 18 to 55 years, were enrolled at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle and at Emory University in Atlanta.

Each volunteer received one of three levels of doses of the vaccine, which were given in two injections about a month apart.

The results showed that participants produced antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.

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The study said when the antibodies were tested against a lab version of SARS-CoV-2, the antibodies neutralised the virus as effectively as antibodies taken from people who were naturally infected with SARS-CoV-2 and recovered.

On the safety of the vaccine, the study said no major side effect was recorded as participants only experienced minor fatigue, chills, headache, myalgia, and pain at the injection site.

“No serious adverse events were noted, and no pre-specified trial halting rules were met,” the study read.

“Local adverse events, when present, were nearly all mild or moderate, and pain at the injection site was common. Across both vaccinations, solicited systemic and local adverse events that occurred in more than half the participants included fatigue, chills, headache, myalgia, and pain at the injection site.”

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Although, it is not clear how long the vaccine can prevent the virus, the study said the 45 participants will be monitored for a long time.

Reacting to the development, Lisa Jackson, the study’s lead author, said the results indicated progress in the quest for an effective vaccine against COVID-19.

“We saw robust responses after the second vaccination. It seems that two doses are needed, which is what is expected from this type of vaccine and from a vaccine against an emerging virus that hasn’t been present in the population. The immune system needs to be set up by the first dose to then respond more vigorously to the second one,” she said.

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorised that next phase of the study involving 30,000 people.

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The study will also compare the efficacy of the vaccine against a placebo.

Moderna was announced as one of the five vaccine developers chosen to be part of US President Donald Trump’s operation warp speed program to accelerate development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

There has been pressure to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 which has disrupted routine activities across the world.

Gilead Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company in the US, is also at the forefront of finding a vaccine for the disease.

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Globally, 13,465,440 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded, but nearly 7.9 million patients have recovered.

Over 581,000 persons have died from the infection.

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