Transcript for Unprecedented rush to find COVID-19 vaccine
Let me turn to the race for a vaccine. A new trial has started with volunteers getting their first doses. Researchers hoping for approval in the fall. The big question, will the vaccine be effective as it mutates? How quickly can they be produced? What are the risks. Amy will speak to one of the lead investigators in a moment but first Kaylee Hartung has the latest from Los Angeles. Kaylee. Reporter: Good morning, George. Vaccines usually take years to develop. But this race, it's moving faster than ever before. The newest trial is being led by one of the world's largest vaccine makers. They started dosing in Germany last week. Now it's time to closely monitor 360 healthy Americans who volunteered for the experiment. This morning, the race to find a potential covid-19 vaccine is under way. Pharmaceutical giant pfizer and its German partner launching human trials in the united States. Giving the first volunteers a dose of the potential vaccine. Or a placebo at the university of Maryland school of medicine. On Monday David rock, a 26-year-old microbiology and immunology ph.d. Student was the first to be injected. S it double blinded so I'm not actually sure on my end if I got one of the vaccine candidates or if I had a placebo so employing all the normal safety precautions. Reporter: Taking place at multiple sites across the country will test four different variations of the vaccine, all using genetic material known as messenger rna hoping to spark an immune system response including the production of antibodies. More than 100 vaccines are being studied worldwide. At least eight have been approved for human studies, a process that normally take years. I always worry about cutting corners. It's going to be given to many, many, many individuals, whole countries and so we don't really want to take too many chances. Reporter: Even if a viable vaccine is found, experts say mass production and distribution will be challenging. But for some like David the potential benefits are worth it. Anything I could do as an individual to help that vaccine to find that vaccine would be a help. Reporter: In anticipation of successfulfully developing a vaccine these companies are already working on how to speed up production and they're sharing information with regulators as they go so they say their goal is to be able to produce millions of shots for emergency use by this fall and hundreds of millions by 2021. Amy. All right, Kaylee, thank you Joining us now is one of the lead investigators in the trial, Dr. Kathleen Neuzil at the university of Maryland school of medicine. Thank you for being with U. Dr. Neuzil. First off how optimistic are you about the success of this trial? So, this is a virus that we knew nothing about five months ago and the fact that we already have multiple vaccines in clinical trials is really -- is cause for optimism. There are four vaccines right now being tested and they're different from what most people think of as vaccines because you're not actually injecting the virus protein so how do they work? Yeah, so we have a variety of different vaccines, both in development and as you said being tested right now. This particular vaccine actually uses the genetic code. So rather than, for example, with an influenza vaccine where we may give you an inactivated piece of the virus, here we're giving the genetic code to the volunteers and then that genetic code is telling our own cells to make that protein, that surface protein that looks like the virus protein. So our body thinks it's a virus and makes antibody to it which we hope will be protective if they're exposed to the real coronavirus. Wow. You started administering these Monday. At what point will you have an indication that it's working? So you're right. The first volunteers in the United States were vaccinated on Monday right here. They will be followed very carefully for safety. We will do this at a gradual pace. We are not sacrificing safety in any way. And they will be coming back frequently to have blood draws to look at their immune so in two weeks, in four weeks they'll be given a second dose of vaccine and then again two, four weeks after that we will be looking at immune responses. I am blinded which means I don't know what vaccines that the volunteers are getting and who gets placebo so it will be pfizer and unblinded members of the company and independent boards that they've set up that will be reviewing the immunogenicity. How soon could they be available? The initial phase is 360 then generally we go from dozens to hundreds to thousands so we want to move very quickly into the efficacy portion where instead of looking at only safety we always look at safety, but instead of looking only at safety and that immune response, we're also looking at disease end point so does it keep people from getting sick from covid-19? So, again, very hard to give a date here. We're hoping months, I know you've heard 12 months from many people that would be a victory. If we could shorten that even further, then it would be even better. Well, we certainly applaud your efforts and wish you the best. Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, thank you for being with us today. We appreciate it.
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