Covid-19 vaccine undergoes final test with 30 thousand volunteers
London, July 28, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Final-stage testing of covid-19 vaccine got underway on Monday with 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the U.S. government, one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race.
The biggest test yet of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., began with volunteers at numerous sites around the U.S. given either a real dose or a dummy without being told which.
There’s still no guarantee yet that the experimental vaccine ultimately work against the scourge that has killed about 650,000 people around the world, including almost 150,000 in the U.S.
The massive studies aren’t just to test if the shots work — they’re needed to check each potential vaccine’s safety. And following the same study rules will let scientists eventually compare all the shots
“I’m excited to be part of something like this. This is huge,” said Melissa Harting, a nurse who received an injection in Binghamton, New York. Especially with family members in front-line jobs that could expose them to the virus, she added, “doing our part to eradicate it is very important to me.”
It will be months before results trickle in, and there is no guarantee the vaccine will ultimately work against the scourge that has killed about 650,000 people around the world, including almost 150,000 in the U.S.
Several other vaccines made by China and by Britain’s Oxford University began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries earlier this month. But the U.S. requires its own tests of any vaccine that might be used in the country
Next up in August, the final U.S. study of the Oxford shot begins, followed by plans to test a candidate from Johnson & Johnson in September and Novavax in October — if all goes according to schedule. Pfizer Inc. plans its own 30,000-person study this summer.
That’s a stunning number of people needed to roll up their sleeves for science. But in recent weeks, more than 150,000 Americans filled out an online registry signaling interest, said Dr. Larry Corey, a virologist with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute in Seattle, who helps oversee the study sites.
“These trials need to be multigenerational, they need to be multiethnic, they need to reflect the diversity of the United States population,” Corey told a vaccine meeting last week. He stressed that it’s especially important to ensure enough Black and Hispanic participants as those populations are hard-hit by COVID-19.
If everything goes right with the final studies, it still will take months for the first data to trickle in from the Moderna test, followed by the Oxford one.
Governments around the world are trying to stockpile millions of doses of those leading candidates so if and when regulators approve one or more vaccines, immunizations can begin immediately. But the first available doses will be rationed, presumably reserved for people at highest risk from the virus.
“We’re optimistic, cautiously optimistic” that the vaccine will work and that “toward the end of the year” there will be data to prove it, Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Massachusetts-based Moderna, told a House subcommittee last week.
Until then, Haller, the volunteer vaccinated back in March, wears a mask in public and takes the same distancing precautions advised for everyone — while hoping that one of the shots in the pipeline pans out.
“I don’t know what the chances are that this is the exact right vaccine. But thank goodness that there are so many others out there battling this right now,” she said. AP