DURBAN – The final-stage testing of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., got underway on Monday with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the U.S. government in one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race.
Several other vaccines made by China and by Britain’s Oxford University began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries earlier this month. Pfizer Inc., also announced late Monday that it had started its own study of its vaccine candidate in the US and elsewhere. That study also aimed to recruit 30,000 people.
Co-founder and Chairman Noubar Afeyan of Moderna Therapeutics said: “Depending on how many cases develop within the study group, Moderna and the NIH may know as early as ‘late this year or early next year’ if the shot is helping to prevent or reduce the severity of infections.”
Both vaccine candidates rely on a new technology that allows for faster development and manufacturing than traditional vaccine production methods but does not have an extensive track record. So-called mRNA, or synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA), teaches the immune system to recognise and neutralise the coronavirus by mimicking its surface.
Pfizer said that if the trial was successful, it could seek regulatory approval as soon as October and supply vaccines for 50 million patients, at two doses each, by the end of the year.
Johnson and Johnson is also launching medical trials within the US this week and will begin a bigger, late-stage trial as early as September. British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc mentioned it’s going to start large-scale US trials this summer season of its vaccine below improvement with Oxford College researchers.
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