30,000 U.S. residents to receive experimental coronavirus vaccine in world’s biggest study yet

coronavirus vaccine update
Photo via Nenad Stojkovic/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In the latest coronavirus vaccine update, 30,000 people in 89 U.S. sites began participating in a COVID-19 study on July 27 to test a potential shot created in part by the federal government, according to the Associated Press.

Hundreds of groups around the world are racing to find a vaccine for the virus that has caused a pandemic for the past four months, but now, the experimental vaccine created by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. is ready for its next step of implementation.

The AP reported that every month through the fall of 2020, a group of 30,000 volunteers will receive an experimental vaccine in what is hoped to be the correct mixture to ensure a vaccine can be implemented effectively and safely.

“These trials need to be multigenerational, they need to be multiethnic, they need to reflect the diversity of the United States population,” Dr. Larry Corey, a virologist in Seattle, recently said, via the AP.

Other potential vaccines that were created in China and in the U.K. have also begun to test groups of people in what could be a vaccine’s final stages.

The New York Times reported that half of the 30,000 volunteers in July would receive two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart, while the other half would receive a placebo. The researchers would then study those people, trying to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine and potential side effects.

Wrote the Times: “The main goal is to determine whether the vaccine can prevent the illness. The study will also try to find out if it can prevent severe COVID-19 and death; if it can prevent infection entirely, based on lab tests; and if just one shot can prevent the illness. Earlier tests of the vaccine showed that it stimulated a strong immune response, with minor and transient side effects like sore arms, fatigue, achiness, and fever. But exactly what type of immune response is needed to prevent the illness is not known, so phase 3 studies are essential to determine whether a vaccine really works.”

If the coronavirus vaccine worked, it would be an extraordinary achievement. Before this worldwide effort, the fastest a vaccine was ever developed was the four years it took to find a vaccine for the mumps.

In June, President Donald Trump said the U.S. would have 2 million vaccine doses ready to go by the end of 2020, and even though not many people backed him up at the time, Moderna said it could deliver 500 million doses in a year and perhaps up to a billion doses per year beginning in 2021. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the White House coronavirus taskforce, said this month that he’s cautiously optimistic about a vaccine being available by the end of 2020.

“Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it’s the right goal for the American people,” Dr. Francis Collins, the N.I.H. director said, via the Times.

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Sources: Associated Press, New York Times, Mass Live

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