coronavirus vaccine

Coronavirus vaccine: US researchers begin human trials [video]

19 March 2020 - 09:43

This is good news but a coronavirus vaccine is not a short-term fix. It will be another 12 to 18 months before any progress is made.

Written by Avuya Walters

The ball has started rolling for virologists as the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus COVID-19 kicks off with the United States (US) in poll position.

Coronavirus latest death toll on Thursday 19 March

According to the latest situation report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 190 000 people have been infected with coronavirus.

The pathogen is spreading vastly at an alarming rate, claiming more than 7 000 casualties. The world’s government have been forced to pump billions into research and laboratories are hard at work, trying to develop a vaccine.

Watch: US lab commences vaccine trials on humans

As reported by Associated Press, the first experimental coronavirus vaccine human trials have begun at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle, Missouri.

“We’re team coronavirus now. Everyone wants to do what they can in this emergency,” Kaiser Permanente research head, Dr Lisa Jackson said.

Four volunteers have stepped up to become the first known subjects of a coronavirus clinical trial.

The vaccine, code-named mRNA-1273, was developed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Moderna Inc., a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company.

The race is on to find a coronavirus vaccine

The results of the tests will lead scientists in the right direction, Jackson said. It is, by no means, going to be ready for the population anytime soon she said, as there were a number of factors to consider.

“We don’t know whether this vaccine will induce an immune response or whether it will be safe. That’s why we’re doing a trial. It’s not at the stage where it would be possible or prudent to give it to the general population,” she added.

How soon will it be available?

While Kaiser Permanente leads the race in developing a vaccine for coronavirus, another lab is trailing closely behind. Inovio Pharmaceuticals is expected to commence with human clinical trials in the US, China and South Korea in April.

Jackson warned the public to not get too excited just yet. Any progress made will not guarantee the immediate population of the drug. It could be another 12 to 18 months before any real progress is made.