Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Shows Promise

There's still a long way to go, though
covid vaccine and needles

As the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to unfold across the globe, researchers are continuing to work diligently toward a working vaccine. Several possible vaccines have entered large clinical trials and one in particular has shown promise, according to a Cleveland Clinic expert. 

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Pulmonologist Daniel Culver, DO, recently spoke about a novel RNA-based vaccine that showed promise. Even though Dr. Culver wasn’t involved in the research, he says that the Phase 1 trial, conducted at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle and at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, showed promise. 

“It’s showing that patients respond, that patients are responding in the way you would hope,” he says. The trial looked involved 45 adults, between the ages of 18 and 55, and included two separate doses administered 28 days apart. 

What the data so far shows

Data from the study showed that the potential vaccine triggered an immune system response in patients, producing antibodies that could possibly fight off COVID-19. According to the National Institute of Health, the vaccine is called mRNA-1273 and uses what’s called “messenger RNA” to cause the immune system to generate antibodies that can fight the “spike” protein that the coronavirus uses to attach itself to human cells. 

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While the patients tolerated potential vaccine well, there are signs that it could cause some mild side effects, including fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain and injection site pain. 

Even with these early successful results, Dr. Culver points out that there’s a long way to go, including multiple additional phases of testing before potential approval for widespread distribution. 

What are the next steps in development?

“The next steps are to prove that this actually is durable, effective at preventing infection and will be a useful strategy for populations,” he says.

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On July 27, 2020, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced that the vaccine was entering Phase 3 of testing. This new phase of testing will involve 30,000 adults and be a blind, placebo-controlled study. If this phase of testing proves successful, it could pave the way for the vaccine to go to market.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also seems cautiously optimistic for the vaccine’s development, saying, “Results from early-stage clinical testing indicate the investigational mRNA-1273 vaccine is safe and immunogenic, supporting the initiation of a Phase 3 clinical trial. This scientifically rigorous, randomized, placebo-controlled trial is designed to determine if the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 and for how long such protection may last.”

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