A coronavirus vaccine currently being being tested by Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, has shown promising early results from its first human safety trials.

In a statement on Monday [May 19], the company stated that their first human test patients have responded well to the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273. Forty-five participants in the study were given different doses of the vaccine.

Eight of their participants who received low and medium doses of mRNA-1273 later displayed virus-fighting antibodies in their blood levels, similar to those of recovered COVID-19 patients. This suggests that the vaccine may trigger a level of immunity.

“We’ve demonstrated that these antibodies, this immune response, can actually block the virus,” said Moderna’s chief medical officer, Dr Tal Zaks. “I think this is a very important first step in our journey towards having a vaccine.
“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 neutralizing 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.”

“With today’s positive interim Phase 1 data and the positive data in the mouse challenge model, the Moderna team continues to focus on moving as fast as safely possible to start our pivotal Phase 3 study in July and, if successful, file a BLA,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer at Moderna. “We are investing to scale up manufacturing so we can maximize the number of doses we can produce to help protect as many people as we can from SARS-CoV-2.”

The Moderna vaccine is one of eight worldwide currently undergoing human testing. If further studies are successful, the vaccine could be available as early as January 2021, according to Dr Tal Zaks.

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