- The first novel coronavirus vaccine tests will begin Monday in Seattle.
- The vaccine, produced by Moderna Inc, will be given to 45 volunteers in order to determine if it produces harmful side effects.
- Even if the testing goes well, we still may be at least a year away from a publicly-available vaccine against COVID-19.
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Coronavirus vaccine trials are expected to begin on Monday, according to a report from the Associated Press that quotes a US government official. The testing will include dozens of healthy volunteers who will receive the vaccine and then be kept under close observation.
These human trials, which were originally expected to begin this summer before being fast-tracked due to the growing pandemic, are the first step toward a publicly available vaccine. However, even if the trials prove the experimental vaccine is safe and effective, it will still be many months before it can be mass-produced and distributed.
There are a number of biotech companies currently working on a vaccine for COVID-19, and many of them have taken huge strides in record time. The vaccine trials beginning on Monday come from Moderna Inc, which worked with the National Institutes of Health to quickly arrange for human trials. The trials will be conducted at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, according to the report.
This first stage of testing, including 45 volunteers, would be a big milestone for the vaccine, but it’s just the first step in the validation process. The tests beginning today will attempt to determine if the vaccine produces any harmful side effects in human patients. Eventually, much larger tests will be needed to ultimately determine the vaccine’s effectiveness. Only after all of the testing is completed can the vaccine be mass-produced and used in clinical settings.
Unfortunately, the unprecedented speed at which the development of coronavirus vaccines has moved will do little to help those currently infected with the virus, or anyone who is at risk of becoming infected within the next year or so. Top health officials have already warned that it will likely take between 12 and 18 months for any approved vaccine to be produced and distributed.
That means cases will continue to pile up and that current safety measures like school closures and social distancing are more important now than ever. Many officials have expressed concern that this pandemic isn’t being taken seriously enough, and that individuals going about their daily lives as if nothing is happening are putting others at risk of infection and possibly death.
Right now, the best thing you can do if you’re feeling well is to stay home. Health officials have urged people to socially distance themselves from others in the hopes of slowing the spread of the virus. “Flattening the curve” of infection will give healthcare workers a chance to treat as many people as possible and avoid mass casualties.