Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said om Monday that the first trial vaccine for the coronavirus is now being tested.
“The vaccine candidate that was given the first injection to the first person took place today,” Fauci said at a White House press conference.
He noted that he had said last week a trail vaccine would take two to three months, but “this has been now 65 days, which i believe is a record.”
Fauci said the trial taking place in Seattle, which has been a hotbed for COVID-19. The test includes 45 people age 18-55 and they are receiving two injections, one at zero days, one at 28 days. The individuals will then be followed for one year.
The testing is being conducted at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle and being funded by the National Institutes of Health, partnering with Moderna, Inc.
The volunteers are not at risk of being infected by the virus as the vaccine doesn’tt actually contain COVID-19. “The goal is purely to check that the vaccines show no worrisome side effects, setting the stage for larger tests,” the Associated Press reports.
Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. Importantly, they’re pursuing different types of vaccines — shots developed from new technologies that not only are faster to produce than traditional inoculations but might prove more potent. Some researchers even aim for temporary vaccines, such as shots that might guard people’s health a month or two at a time while longer-lasting protection is developed.
Also in the works: Inovio Pharmaceuticals aims to begin safety tests of its vaccine candidate next month in 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 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.