Human Trial of Covid-19 Vaccine Gives Promising Results

Source: EDDY MWANZA, l May 19, 2020

The first human trials of a Covid-19 experimental vaccine has offered a glimmer of hope after the test subjects were able to stimulate an immune response against the infection, the manufacturer, Moderna, announced on Monday, May 18.

The American biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, used 2 doses on 8 healthy volunteers aged between 18-55.

According to initial reports, the immune systems of the test subjects produced antibodies that were then tested in infected cells in a controlled lab environment and were able to stop the virus from replicating.

This is a vital requirement for an effective vaccine. To further compound the good news, the levels of the neutralizing antibodies matched or exceeded those found in patients who had recovered after contracting the virus.

The firm carried out 3 doses of the vaccine namely: low, medium and high, with the only side effects recorded being redness and soreness in one patient's arm where the shot was given.

However, at the highest dose, 3 of the patients developed a fever, muscle pains and headaches, symptoms which subsided after a day.

Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tal Zaks told the media that if the trials go well, mass production of the vaccine would commence, "We're doing our best to make it as many millions as possible," he optimistically stated.

The CMO further stated that they were hopeful that the low dose would be the one that would work best, “The lower the dose, the more vaccine we’ll be able to make,” he revealed.Moderna’s technology, involving genetic material from the virus called Messenger RNA (mRNA) - a single-stranded RNA molecule that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene and is read by the ribosome in the process of producing a protein.

Theoretically, the administered mRNA sequence can cause a cell to make a protein, which in turn could directly treat a disease or could function as a vaccine, which is how Moderna engineered their experimental vaccine that has offered a ray of hope amidst the Coronavirus epidemic that has claimed over 300,000 across the world as of May 19.

In Kenya, the deadly virus has claimed 50 lives and led to the cessation of movements in major cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa, as the national government stepped up its fight against the pandemic.

The American firm invested billions of dollars in mRNA-based therapeutics as far back as 2010.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the biotech firm a green light to begin their second phase of trials which entails trying out their experimental vaccine on at least 600 volunteers.

Dr Zaks revealed that if phase two of the trials goes well, doses of the vaccine will be made available for widespread use by the end of the year or in the first few months in 2021.

He further revealed that they had also carried out additional tests on mice and found that the vaccine could prevent the virus from replicating in their lungs and that the animals developed high levels of neutralizing antibodies.

US President Donald Trump could not hide his joy after he was informed of the trials, "This was a very big day, cure wise and vaccine wise,” he stated while speaking from the White House.

Once the news broke, Moderna’s stock soared by over 25%.