Study subjects who received Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine had positive early results, according to the biotech company, which partnered with the US National Institutes of Health to develop the vaccine.
If future studies go well, the company’s vaccine could be available to the public as early as January, Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, told CNN.
“This is absolutely good news and news that we think many have been waiting for for quite some time,” Zaks said.
These early data come from the Phase 1 clinical trial, which typically studies a small number of people and focuses on whether a vaccine is safe and elicits an immune response.
Eight developers around the world are doing human trials with a vaccine for coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (AP/AAP)
The results of the study, which was led by the National Institutes Health, have not been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.
Moderna has vaccinated dozens of study participants and measured antibodies in eight of them. All eight developed neutralising antibodies to the virus at levels reaching or exceeding the levels seen in people who’ve naturally recovered from Covid-19, according to the company.
Neutralising antibodies bind to the virus, disabling it from attacking human cells.
“We’ve demonstrated that these antibodies, this immune response, can actually block the virus,” Zaks said.
“I think this is a very important first step in our journey towards having a vaccine.”
A vaccine specialist who is not involved in Moderna’s work said the company’s results are “great.”
Developers of the Moderna vaccine say early results show it is effective in disabling coronavirus cells. (AP)
While the vaccine had promising results in the lab, it’s not known if it will protect people in the real world. The US Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company to begin Phase 2 trials, which typically involve several hundred of people, and Moderna plans to start large-scale clinical trials, known as Phase 3 trials, in July, which typically involve tens of thousands of people.
Offit said before the pandemic, vaccine developers would typically test out their product in thousands of people before moving on to Phase 3, but that Moderna is “extremely unlikely” to have vaccinated that many by July, since they’ve only vaccinated dozens so far.
He said it makes sense to Moderna to move into Phase 3 without vaccinating that many people, given that Covid-19 is killing thousands of people each day.
“This is a different time,” Offit said.
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