The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, May 19, 2020 1:00 am

Possible vaccine shows promise in early trials

Associated Press

An experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results in early testing, triggering hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers, its maker announced Monday.

Study volunteers given either a low or medium dose of the vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. had antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

In the next phase of the study, led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, researchers will try to determine which dose is best for a definitive experiment that they aim to start in July.

In all, 45 people have received one or two shots of the vaccine, which was being tested at three different doses. The kind of detailed antibody results needed to assess responses are only available on eight volunteers so far.

The vaccine seems safe, the company said, but much more extensive testing is needed to see if it remains so. A high dose version is being dropped after spurring some short-term side effects.

The results have not been published and are only from the first of three stages of testing that vaccines and drugs normally undergo. U.S. government officials have launched Operation Warp Speed to develop a vaccine and hopefully have 300 million doses by January.

Worldwide, about a dozen vaccine candidates are in the first stages of testing. Health officials have said that if all goes well, studies of a potential vaccine might wrap up by very late this year or early next year.


White House adviser divests in firm

The former pharmaceutical executive leading the White House's coronavirus vaccine effort is divesting from vaccine developer Moderna Inc., the biotech company said Monday after early-stage test results sent its stock soaring.

Moncef Slaoui resigned from Moderna's board of directors when the Trump administration tapped him last week to be chief adviser for its Operation Warp Speed. But he still had stock options for about 156,000 Moderna shares; based on Friday's closing price, they were worth about $10 million.

Moderna is among the companies developing a potential vaccine for the virus, and in April the federal government agreed to award it up to $483 million to speed up that process.

– Tribune News Service

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