Humanity may finally be close to developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna’s vaccone candidate, which was the first to be tested on human in the U.S has appeared to be safe and has been able to stimulate an immune response to the virus.
The data comes from eight healthy volunteers who participated in a 45-subject safety trial which began in early March. Overall, the study concluded that the vaccine was safe and all parties produced antibodies. These antibodies produced in the bodies of healthy people were then tested in human cells in the lab and were observed to be able to stop the virus from replicating, fulfilling the principle criteria to qualify as an effective vaccine. These individuals recorded levels of antibodies that surpassed the levels found in those who have recovered from COVID-19.
These results come from individuals who received low (25 microgram) and medium (100 microgram) dosages. The only adverse effect seen within this group was redness and soreness in the arm of one volunteer on the spot where the shot was delivered. Within those who received high dosages, fever and headaches were recorded, although these symptoms lasted only for a day. However, high dosages have been eliminated from future studies. Moderna said that it will drop plans to test a 250 mcg dose and test a 50 mcg dose instead.
This is however, only one of the three phases of testing before the vaccine is available for widespread use. Moderna has received approval from the FDA for the second phase with 600 volunteers which is expected to begin sometime soon. According to company’s Chief medical officer Tal Zaks, if the vaccine makes it though all stages, we can anticipate a vaccine by the end of this year or by early 2021.
Meanwhile, the news has lifted Moderna’s shares by 20%. Moderna launched a $1.34 billion share offering at a price of $76 per share on Monday. Initially, the company has said it had plans to sell $1.25 billion in common stock to raise money for vaccine development and manufacturing.