Mbabane: U.S. researchers say an experimental coronavirus vaccine has shown promising immune responses in an on-going early-stage study.
The potential new vaccine was manufactured by U.S.-based biotech firm Moderna and developed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday, the researchers gave two doses of the experimental vaccine to 45 volunteers, whose ages ranged between 18 and 55.
The researchers said none of the volunteers experienced a serious side effect, but more than half reported mild or moderate reactions such as fatigue, headaches, chills, muscle aches and pain at the injection site.
The results of the vaccine, the first to be tested in humans, was part of the first phase of a trial designed to test low, medium and high doses of the vaccine to gauge both its safety and its ability to create immunity.
“It’s a first step, but it is an exciting first step,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, who was not involved in the study.
Moderna is currently in the second testing phase of the vaccine, which will involve a larger group of volunteers to determine its effectiveness. The company will launch a third testing phase on July 27, which will involve 30 000 volunteers, the largest study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine so far.
Moderna was the first to start human testing of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus on March 16, 66 days after the genetic sequence of the virus was released.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose reseachers developed Moderna’s vaccine candidate, called the results “good news,” noting that the study found no serios adverse events and the vaccine produced “reasonably high” levels of virus-killing or neutralizing antibodies.
“If your vaccine can induce a response comparable with natural infection, that’s a winner,” Dr. Fauci said in a telephonic interview with Hindu Times. “That’s why we are pleased by the results.”
The US government is supporting Moderna’s vaccine with nearly E9 trillion (US$0.5 billion) and has chosen it as one of the first to enter large-scale human trials. A successful vaccine could be a turning point for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Mordena, which has never had a licensed product
Another biotech firm, Johnson & Johnson, is also expected to begin late-stage human trials for a potential vaccine by the end of July.
News of the vaccine comes as more and more cities around the world are reimposing social distancing and quarantine measures due to a spike in new COVID-19 infections.
Just months after imposing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, Eswatini is currently experiencing a rapid spread of the pandemic, resulting in government re-imposing alcohol sale ban in a bid to control the spread.
As of Tuesday, 45 new positive cases of COVID-19 were announced by the Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi, bringing the total of infections to 1 434. Nkosi said these results were coming from the 453 results received.
Nkosi added that the number of recoveries has also increased to 695 as seven new recoveries were recorded on Tuesday.
According to the statistics, Manzini region has recorded 747 cases, followed by Hhohho region with 450 cases, Shiselweni and Lubombo regions have recorded 125 and 112 cases respectively.
Meanwhile, the South Africa’s JJohannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) was firmer on Wednesday in line with European markets as progress in finding the Covid-19 vaccine lifted investor sentiment.
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