x

Sciences

First COVID-19 Vaccine Tested in US Poised for Final Testing

The first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people's immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported Tuesday — as the shots are poised to begin key final testing.

"No matter how you slice this, this is good news," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press.

The experimental vaccine, developed by Fauci's colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will start its most important step around July 27: A 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.

But Tuesday, researchers reported anxiously awaited findings from the  first 45 volunteers who rolled up their sleeves back in March. Sure enough, the vaccine provided a hoped-for immune boost.

Those early volunteers developed what are called neutralizing antibodies in their bloodstream — molecules key to blocking infection — at levels comparable to those found in people who survived COVID-19, the research team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

"This is an essential building block that is needed to move forward with the trials that could actually determine whether the vaccine does protect against infection," said Dr. Lisa Jackson of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle, who led the study.

There's no guarantee but the government hopes to have results around the end of the year — record-setting speed for developing a vaccine.

The vaccine requires two doses, a month apart. 

There were no serious side effects. But more than half the study participants reported flu-like reactions to the shots that aren't uncommon with other vaccines — fatigue, headache, chills, fever and pain at the injection site. For three participants given the highest dose, those reactions were more severe; that dose isn't being pursued.

Some of those reactions are similar to coronavirus symptoms but they're temporary, lasting about a day and occur right after vaccination, researchers noted. 

"Small price to pay for protection against COVID," said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a vaccine expert who wasn't involved with the study. 

He called the early results "a good first step," and is optimistic that final testing could deliver answers about whether it's really safe and effective by the beginning of next year. 

"It would be wonderful. But that assumes everything's working right on schedule," Schaffner cautioned.

Moderna's share price jumped nearly 15 percent in trading after U.S. markets closed. Shares of the company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have nearly quadrupled this year. 

Tuesday's results only included younger adults. The first-step testing later was expanded to include dozens of older adults, the age group most at risk from COVID-19. Those results aren't public yet but regulators are evaluating them. Fauci said final testing will include older adults, as well as people with chronic health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus — and Black and Latino populations likewise affected.

Nearly two dozen possible COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world. Candidates from China and Britain's Oxford University also are entering final testing stages. 

The 30,000-person study will mark the world's largest study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine so far. And the NIH-developed shot isn't the only one set for such massive U.S. testing, crucial to spot rare side effects. The government plans similar large studies of the Oxford candidate and another by Johnson & Johnson; separately, Pfizer Inc. is planning its own huge study.

Already, people can start signing up to  volunteer  for the different studies.

People think "this is a race for one winner. Me, I'm cheering every one of them on," said Fauci, who directs NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

 "We need multiple vaccines. We need vaccines for the world, not only for our own country."

Around the world, governments are investing in stockpiles of hundreds of millions of doses of the different candidates, in hopes of speedily starting inoculations if any are proven to work.

RELATED

WASHINGTON  — A closely watched Alzheimer's drug from Eli Lilly won the backing of federal health advisers on Monday, setting the stage for the treatment's expected approval for people with mild dementia caused by the brain-robbing disease.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Alberto, Season’s First Named Tropical Storm, Dumps Rain on Texas and Mexico, Which Reports 3 Deaths

TAMPICO, Mexico (AP) — Tropical Storm Alberto rumbled toward northeast Mexico early Thursday as the first named storm of the season, carrying heavy rains that left three people dead but also brought hope to a region suffering under a prolonged, severe drought.

Saturday, June 15, evening, a Democratic campaign event in Los Angeles.

BOSTON – The 10th International Summer University was recently held at the Maliotis Cultural Center in Brookline, MA.

Greek-American Daren Metropoulos is a principal at the private-equity firm Metropoulos & Co.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A 22-year-old woman who became an abortion rights advocate after she was raped by her stepfather as a child will campaign with first lady Jill Biden in Pennsylvania this weekend as part of a 2024 election push around the anniversary of the fall of Roe v.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.