Moderna's coronavirus vaccine shows initial immune response

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine shows initial immune response

The biotech plans to start additional trials immediately and hopes its vaccine could be ready for emergency use this fall.

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Moderna on Monday reported positive results from an early trial for its CCP virus vaccine.

In an interview with Israeli television, Zaks said he was confident that, toward the end of the year, "we'll be able to present first results that prove that our vaccine indeed prevents the disease".

Finding an effective coronavirus vaccine has become a global priority in ending the pandemic.

The company has signed deals with Swiss contract drugmaker Lonza Group AG and the USA government to produce massive quantities of its vaccine.

The vaccine trials, run by the USA government's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, showed the vaccine led to the production of antibodies which can neutralise the coronavirus. Here are the top 3 candidates aiming to be ready this fall.

mRNA stands for messenger RNA.

Moderna's is one of about a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have begun studies in humans. Moderna has a market value of about $US28 billion.

Moderna said three patients who were given that the highest dose - 250 mg - showed short-lived flu-like symptoms, which they say is common in vaccines.

Samples are not yet available for the remaining participants, Moderna said.

"These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 (micrograms)", Dr. Tal Zaks said.

Researchers have focused on neutralising antibodies, in particular. They looked at both the quantity of coronavirus antibodies produced, and in a smaller subset of people, whether those antibodies were sufficient to prevent the virus from infecting cells in test tube experiments.

The levels of those antibodies were similar to that found in people who caught Covid-19 and then recovered.

Follow-up data was more limited for the higher doses, as the volunteers are still being tracked. People who received two doses at 100 microgram had binding antibody levels that "significantly exceeded" the levels seen in the blood of Covid-19 survivors.

Moderna say the levels of antibodies found also matched the levels discovered in individuals who contracted the virus and later recovered.

In the next phase, the company has now given the antibodies to hamsters exposed to the coronavirus, and is expecting results in the next few weeks.

The Massachusetts-based biotechnology company said that preliminary data from the trial showed all 45 participants produced antibodies against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. "Moncef-Slaoui-Appointment-Oversee" target="_blank">was named Chief Scientist for Trump's "Operation Warp Speed" COVID-19 vaccine hunt last week, is Moderna's former director, and holds $10 million in stock options in the company.

Moderna, which conducted the first human trials, said its vaccine, mRNA-1273, was "generally safe and well-tolerated" in its clinical trials of patients, ages 18-55. One participant who received the 100 microgram doses experienced redness around the injection site. "All adverse events have been transient and self-resolving", the company noted, without further describing these side effects in the high-dose arm.

A vaccine or treatment that gets the status is eligible for more frequent meetings with the FDA. Technology transfer is expected to begin in June, with the first batches of mRNA-1273 set to be manufactured at Lonza's USA site in July.

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