FRIDAY, July 31, 2020 — An experiential vaccine to protect against COVID-19 developed by Johnson & Johnson appears effective in monkeys, the New York Times reported Thursday.
This is the second vaccine that had promising results in monkeys reported this week, but whether they work in humans is the real test.
A human test is now underway in Europe and the United States. More than 30 human trials have been started testing coronavirus vaccines, but not until these trials are over in several months will we know if they work in people.
“This week has been good — now we have two vaccines that work in monkeys,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University who was not involved in the studies, told the Times. “It’s nice to be upbeat for a change.”
These new results can’t be used to speed trials in humans. “We just can’t take shortcuts,” she said.
The two vaccines work in very differently.
The one by Moderna delivers messenger RNA into cells which causes an immune response to the virus. RNA vaccines have not yet been approved for use in people, the Times noted.
Moderna began Phase 3 trials on Monday, as did Pfizer.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine activates the immune response by altering the virus.
A single shot of the vaccine was able to protect five out of six monkeys and the sixth had only low levels of the virus, the Times reports.
“The fact that we could protect with a single shot in animal models was quite a positive surprise to us,” Dr. Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson, told the Times.
“It’s exciting to see the number of platforms that are showing promise for a vaccine,” Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis who was not involved in any of the trials, told the paper.
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