Biotech firm reports ‘positive’ COVID–19 vaccine trial

Sample coronavirus test [PHOTO: Euronews] hospital COVID-19
Sample coronavirus test [PHOTO: Euronews]

A biotech firm, Moderna, has reported ‘positive’ results from its COVID-19 vaccine trial.

The firm said its ‘closely watched early-stage human trial for a coronavirus vaccine produced COVID-19 antibodies in all 45 participants used in the trial.”

An antibody is a protective protein produced by the immune system in response to the presence of a foreign substance, called an antigen (such as coronaviruses). Antibodies recognise and latch onto antigens in order to remove them from the body.

In the frantic search for a vaccine to tackle COVID-19, scientists across the world are latching unto the science of antibodies to curb the spread of the virus in humans.

According to CNBC news, the declaration by the firm sent its shares to about a 20 per cent increase in value.

Claims

The firm said each participant received two doses of 25 and 100 (250 microgram) of its experimental vaccine via intramuscular injection in the upper arm closely monitored within a four week equidistance period

The phase 1 trial took place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, where it reportedly tested the vaccine on 45 males and nonpregnant females within the ages of 18 to 55.

Two weeks following the second dose, levels of binding antibodies in the 25 microgram group were at the levels generally seen in blood samples from people who recovered from the disease, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said.

“Those in the 100 microgram had antibodies that “significantly exceeded levels” in recovered patients. Data on a second dose was not available for the 250 microgram group,” the company said.

The CNBC said the company announced that the vaccine also produced neutralising antibodies against COVID-19 in at least eight participants, “of which experts have said neutralising antibodies appear to be important in acquiring protection.”

“Four participants were assigned to receive a 25 microgram dose, while the other four received 100 micrograms. Levels of neutralising antibodies were at or above levels seen in blood samples, and data on neutralizing antibodies for the other participants were not yet available,” the Moderna statement reads.

Meanwhile, Moderna chief medical officer, Tal Zaks, in a statement said, “These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 [micrograms].

“When combined with the success in preventing viral replication in the lungs of a pre-clinical challenge model at a dose that elicited similar levels of neutralizing antibodies, these data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials.”

READ ALSO: French pharmaceutical giant to make COVID-19 vaccine available to all – Official

According to CNBC news, scientists hope the antibodies will provide some degree of protection against getting infected, “but they can’t say that definitively yet since it hasn’t been studied and some patients appear to have been reinfected after recovering from the virus.”

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It also said there are no formally approved treatments for COVID-19, which has killed at least 315,225 and sickened 4.7 million people worldwide since emerging from the Chinese city of Wuhan more than four months ago.

Health officials have said producing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 would take 12 to 18 months at the earliest.

However, more than 100 vaccines are under development globally, according to the World Health Organisation with at least eight undergoing human trials.



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