The race for a coronavirus vaccine received boost on Monday following “positive interim results” in a trial on humans by a United States-based company.
Moderna, the biotechnology company leading effort to create the vaccine, announced the positive outcome from its first human safety tests carried out in eight patients.
It said in the patients who were monitored for a month and a half, doses of the vaccine triggered blood levels of virus-fighting antibodies that were similar or greater than those found in patients who recovered.
The company said it plans to launch a large clinical trial in July to confirm the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, was quoted as saying if the trials go well, a vaccine could become available for widespread use by the end of this year or early 2021.
“These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 µg,” Zaks also said.
“When combined with the success in preventing viral replication in the lungs of a pre-clinical challenge model at a dose that elicited similar levels of neutralising antibodies, these data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials.”
Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, added that the company is aiming to scale up manufacturing “so we can maximise the number of doses we can produce to help protect as many people as we can from SARS-CoV-2.”
The US Food and Drug Administration already gave the company approval to begin the phase two clinical trials.