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COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Now in Final Phase of Testing

TUESDAY, July 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A vaccine developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. has entered the final phase of testing, the Associated Press reported Monday.

To see if the vaccine will protect people from the virus, 30,000 volunteers will randomly receive the two doses of the vaccine or a placebo.

The participants will be followed to see which group gets infected.

“Unfortunately for the United States of America, we have plenty of infections right now,” NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci told the AP.

According to Moderna, vaccination has been tried out in Savannah, Ga., and will be given in more than 80 sites around the country.

This is only one of the many vaccines under development worldwide. Other trials are underway in China and Britain, and final tests have started in Brazil and other countries.

Before a vaccine can be approved in the United States it must be tested here. Through fall, the COVID-19 Prevention Network will test new vaccines — each with 30,000 volunteers, the AP notes.

These tests will determine which vaccine works best and is safest. Vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax and Pfizer Inc. are all slated for testing.

It usually takes years to develop a new vaccine, but specialists are racing to find an effective vaccine that can curb the pandemic.

“We all feel so helpless right now. There’s very little that we can do to combat this virus. And being able to participate in this trial has given me a sense of, that I’m doing something,” trial volunteer Jennifer Haller of Seattle told the AP. “Be prepared for a lot of questions from your friends and family about how it’s going, and a lot of thank-you’s.”

In early trials the vaccine boosted the immune system in ways expected to be protective. Some side effects, such as a brief fever, chills and pain at the injection site were seen. These findings were also seen in the other vaccines scheduled for testing.

If the vaccine passes the test, it will be months before it can reach the general public.

The first doses will be most likely, be given to people at highest risk from the virus, the AP said.

“We’re optimistic, cautiously optimistic” that the vaccine will work and that “toward the end of the year” data will prove it, Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Massachusetts-based Moderna, told a House subcommittee last week, the AP reported.

“I don’t know what the chances are that this is the exact right vaccine. But thank goodness that there are so many others out there battling this right now,” Haller said.

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