In a clinical trial for a vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus, a first participant will receive the experimental dose on Monday, according to a U.S. government official.
The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. The official who disclosed plans for the first participant spoke on condition of anonymity because the move has not been publicly announced.
Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.
Even if initial safety tests go well, “you’re talking about a year to a year and a half” before any vaccine could be ready for widespread use, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“The answer to containing is public health measures,“ Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said. “We can’t rely on a vaccine over the next several months to a year.”
An initial $8.3 billion bill signed earlier this month to address the coronavirus included more than $3 billion for vaccine research. The House has since passed another series of measures aiming to reduce the economic effects of COVID-19’s spread.
Testing will begin with 45 young, healthy volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. There’s no chance participants could get infected from the shots, because they don’t contain the virus itself. The goal is purely to check that the vaccines show no worrisome side effects, setting the stage for larger tests.
Followed by a similar study in China and South Korea, Inovio Pharmaceuticals aims to begin safety tests of its vaccine candidate next month in a few dozen volunteers at the University of Pennsylvania and a testing center in Kansas City, Missouri.
In China, scientists have been testing a combination of HIV drugs against the new coronavirus, as well as an experimental drug named remdesivir that was in development to fight Ebola. But none have been proven to fully cure the pandemic.
The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 156,000 people and left more than 5,800 dead. In the United States, more than 2,900 people are confirmed to have the coronavirus, and roughly 60 people have died from the disease as of Sunday afternoon.