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Candidate Vaccine: Moderna COVID-19 Generates Immune Response

Moderna Inc. a Massachusetts-based biotech company, a candidate vaccine for COVID-19 appears to generate positive interim data in the first phase of the coronavirus vaccine trial.

The biotech company announced Monday, May 18, Moderna appears to generate an immune response similar to the response seen in people who have been infected by the virus and recovered.

Each participant received a 25, 100, and 250 microgram dose, with 15 people in each dose group. Participants received two doses of the potential vaccine via intramuscular injection in the upper arm approximately 28 days apart.

In a statement, phase 1 trial, 8 patients who received 2 doses of vaccine at the lowest and middle doses tested — 25 and 100 micrograms — developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus at levels similar to people who had recovered from the infection.

According to Tal Zaks, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer, “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,”

“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,” Zaks added.

The data were limited and from only a small number of participants in the trial, led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But they are still likely to be seen as encouraging.

Moderna, which has been fast-tracking work with the National Institute of Health to develop a vaccine, is the first company to release data on a human trial testing a coronavirus vaccine.

Scientists hope the antibodies provide some degree of protection against getting COVID-19, but they can’t say that definitively yet since it hasn’t been studied and some patients appear to have been reinfected after recovering from the virus.

The Phase 1 trial took place at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. It tested the vaccine on 45 males and nonpregnant females ages 18 to 55.

There are no approved treatments for COVID-19, which has killed at least 315, 225, and sickened 4.7 million people worldwide since emerging from the Chinese city of Wuhan more than four months ago.