While the panic over the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is increasing globally, scientists are racing to develop vaccines against COVID-19 to help to contain the outbreak.
Health authorities around the world have confirmed that more than 189,160 people were infected last week.
Meanwhile, scientists in a Seattle research institute have started the first phase of clinical trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine for human use. The vaccine was developed through a partnership between the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Moderna, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
For the first clinical trial, the scientists tried the vaccine on four adults out of 45 eventual participants, received their first doses of the experimental vaccine as the first step in a long process to prove the new drug’s safety and effectiveness.
According to scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute which hosts the trials, participants will receive various first doses of the vaccine, over the next six weeks, followed by a second dose 28 days later.
Over a 14-month period, scientists will evaluate the effectivity of the vaccine and follow up on its impacts on the participants through visits both in person and over the phone. Depending on the results of the blood samples taken from the participants, researchers will be able to evaluate the body’s immune response to the experimental vaccine.
The new vaccine was created just 42 days after the genetic sequence of the virus called “SARS-CoV-2”. According to a science report published in Nature this week, SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh virus of the large family of coronaviruses known to infect humans. These viruses have the ability to cause severe disease. Researchers have confirmed that their analyses clearly showed that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.
Moderna’s announcement came after about two months since the COVID-19 outbreak has emerged in the Chinese province of Hubei in December 2019. Since then, hundreds of medical experiments and trials were conducted to find out a vaccine for the deadly infectious.
In a statement at the White House on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institutes of Health, said that the new vaccine “marked just the beginning of a series of studies in people needed to prove whether the shots are safe and could work. Even if the research goes well, a vaccine would not be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months.”
He added that sharing the genetic sequence of the virus by the Chinese scientists 65 days ago, was a record for developing a vaccine to test.
Coronavirus vaccine was a reason for a debate between the United States and Germany, as Washington has attempted to persuade a German firm “CureVac” working on developing a possible vaccine for Covid-19 to move its research work to the US.
The call was rejected by the German side who accused US President Donald Trump of trying to monopolise any new vaccine exclusively, in the US.
Shortly after his return to Berlin from a visit to the US to attend a meeting with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, chief executive of the German firm CureVac, Daniel Menichella, was announced to leave his post which he had held for two years.
The reason behind his sudden departure is not known until now, but media reports linked this step to his visit to Washington as Berlin showed no tolerance with Trump’s offer.
In the meantime, Chinese scientists revealed that they are about to develop some vaccines against the novel Coronavirus disease known as COVID-19. According to Chinese officials in media statements on Tuesday, Chinese higher education institutions are expected to enter clinical trials for some of these vaccines as soon as possible.
Lei Chaozi, an official in the Chinese Ministry of Education, said at a press conference in Beijing that the first of these vaccines is based on the flu viral vector, and is currently under animal experimentation for safety and efficacy tests.
The new vaccine is expected and scheduled to apply for the clinical trial by the end of April.
Simultaneously, Australian scientists are also devoting their efforts for studying the new infection, and finally they said they have come to know how the immune system is fighting the Covid-19.
Their research, whose results were published in the Nature Medicine on Tuesday, revealed that people with the virus are recovering in the same way as people with normal flu.
Experts also say that identifying the types of immune cells that appear after infection with the Coronavirus will help to develop a vaccine against it.