US backed Moderna vaccine protects 16 monkeys from covid-19 in final trial
London, July 29, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Moderna Inc.’s vaccine candidate against Covid-19 protected against the virus in a trial that inoculated 16 monkeys, an encouraging step on the path to a defence for humans against the pandemic.
Two injections of the vaccine protected against heavy exposure to the virus at two different levels of dosage, Moderna said in findings published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The primates didn’t show any sign of creating enhanced disease, a problem that has occasionally been associated with vaccines.
The results, if they hold up in humans, suggest that the vaccine may be able to protect against Covid-19 in both the upper and lower airways.
In all the monkeys who got the high doses of the vaccine, no viral replication was detectable in their noses two days after being challenged with the virus, according to the study results.
And no viral replication was seen in the lung fluid of 7 of 8 animals in both dose groups after being challenged with the virus. All 16 monkeys showed at least some sign of protection, with limited lung inflammation seen in the lungs of both groups.
“This important preclinical study shows that mRNA-1273 protected against a high dose SARS-CoV-2 infection in non-human primates and prevented pulmonary disease in all animals, further supporting the clinical advancement of mRNA-1273,” said Stephen Hoge, M.D., President at Moderna
“We believe this is the first demonstration of control of viral replication within two days of challenge in both the nose and lungs in non-human primates by a vaccine against COVID-19.
“Given the similarity between the protective immune response generated by mRNA-1273 in this study and the immune response seen in humans in the recently published Phase 1 clinical data for the vaccine, we remain cautiously optimistic that mRNA-1273 will be able to prevent COVID-19 disease and may also slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by shortening the duration of shedding.”Stephen Hoge concluded
While the data is encouraging, a far bigger test is under way for Moderna, involving 30,000 humans.
The phase 3 trial to determine the safety and efficacy of the vaccine will begin producing data in November or December.
The vaccine uses messenger RNA, a synthetic form of genetic material from the virus designed to nudge the body’s immune system into attack mode.
The U.S. government is providing $955 million to help fund the vaccine’s development.