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Promising US Covid-19 vaccine crosses final hurdles, advances to general human trials

US biotech company Moderna is a global frontrunner in the effort to develope a vaccine against Covid-19.
US biotech company Moderna is a global frontrunner in the effort to develope a vaccine against Covid-19. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
2 min

A promising Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the US biotech company Moderna is about to enter the final stage of human trials.

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After encouraging early results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the company said it would enter final human trials on 27 July, to test how well the vaccine protects people in the real world.

The phase 3 trial will recruit some 30,000 participants in the US, half of whom will receive a placebo, and the other half of whom will receive a 100 microgram dose of the vaccine.

Those trial subjects will then be tracked over two years to determine whether they are protected against infection by the coronavirus or, if they are infected, whether the vaccine prevents the onset of symptoms.

The vaccine was found to induce immune responses in all of the volunteers who received it in a phase 1 study. Mild side effects included fatigue, chills, headache, muscle pain and pain at the injection site.

Participants 'developed antibodies'

Results in the New England Journal of Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal, showed the first 45 study participants all developed antibodies to the virus.

However scientists have warned the first vaccines to reach the market may not be the most effective or safest. The vaccine can still be considered a success if it stops severe cases of Covid-19.

The Moderna vaccine trials, being done in partnership with the US National Institutes of Health, should run until 27 October, 2022, with preliminary results available long beforehand.

So far, the coronavirus has infected more than 13.2 million people and killed 570,000 people worldwide.

 

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