US-based biotech company Moderna has found that its COVID-19 vaccine was able to boost immune response in all volunteers during a Phase 1 human trial, according to early results published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday.
The finding marks the first time a US-made vaccine candidate had results published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, CNN reports.
“This is really quite good news,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a Tuesday interview, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
“The gold standard of protection against a viral infection is neutralizing antibodies,” he added. “And the data from the study, small numbers as it may be, are pretty clear that this vaccine is capable of inducing quite good [levels] of neutralizing antibodies.”
The Phase 1 trial was designed to gauge if the vaccine was safe for humans and how it affected participants’ immune systems, and involved 45 healthy adult participants aged 18 to 55. They were given the vaccine twice over 28 days, with varying dose levels.
Side effects were minimal, fortunately. At 100 microgram dosage levels, 80 percent of participants experienced chills and headaches. Just over half experienced muscle pains that were “transient and mild or moderate in severity,” according to Moderna.
Important to note: We still have yet to see the vaccine’s immune response in participants who are not in perfect health, are already suffering from COVID, or who are over the age of 55.
A Phase 3 trial is already planned to start on July 27 and will include a randomized, placebo-controlled trial including 30,000 participants receiving the highest dosage level tested in Phase 1. Two other companies will also begin Phase 3 trials of their COVID vaccines later this year.
“We look forward to beginning our Phase 3 study of mRNA-1273 this month to demonstrate our vaccine’s ability to significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 disease,” Tal Zaks, Chief Medical Officer of Moderna, said in a statement.
The vaccine, mRNA-1273, works by activating immune pathways by training the body to recognize proteins produced by the virus through using messenger RNA (mRNA). It’s an entirely new type of vaccine and functions quite differently compared to conventional ones, many of which use weakened live versions of the virus.