COVID-19 vaccine is near; Moderna eyes final-stage human trials in July

Several other attempts for COVID-19 vaccines are also heading towards final stages of development

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Us-based Bio-tech firm Moderna is expected to begin the final-stage clinical trial of its vaccine for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 by July.

Moderna was the first company to begin human clinical trials of its vaccine candidate in the U.S., and the final stage of its research will cover 30,000 people and will be carried out in conjunction with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The purpose of the study will be to provide reliable clinical proof that Moderna’s vaccine actually does stop people from developing COVID-19, and, secondarily, that it checks at least critical symptoms and cases that require hospitalization from developing. Moderna’s second-stage clinical trial began last month. The company has earlier said that it could possibly begin administering experimental doses available to healthcare workers in limited capacities by the end of the year.

The development of several leading vaccine candidates moving just as quickly, if not faster. Johnson & Johnson had said earlier this week that it would commence trials of its vaccine later in July, while AstraZeneca and its research and development partner the University of Oxford will be starting its own final-stage clinical trials this month.

Moderna’s vaccine candidate is an mRNA vaccine, which is a technology that primarily provides guidance to healthy cells to create antibodies to the coronavirus, without having to introduce any of the active or inactive virus itself. mRNA vaccines, while used in veterinary medicines, are comparatively new technology and have not yet been validated for treatment in human patients, but they represent a number of the early vaccine attempts, because of their advantages in terms of speed of development and the reduced theoretical health risk they pose to people, including early trial participants.