Coronavirus vaccine tests show promise in early human testing: Study

Phase 2 testing will begin shortly, phase 3 slated for July.

May 18, 2020, 11:45 AM

The biotech company researching a coronavirus vaccine released early results of its phase 1 testing Monday, saying it found promising results so far.

Moderna, which conducted the first human trials, said its vaccine, mRNA-1273, was "generally safe and well-tolerated" in its clinical trials of patients, ages 18-55. The study, which is led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), tested three doses: 25 mcg, 100 mcg and 250 mcg.

Two weeks after patients received the final dose at the 25 and 100 mcg levels, eight saw their antibody levels rise to about the same level as patients who already recovered from COVID-19, according to the report.

PHOTO: Work on a COVID-19 vaccine is underway at American biotechnology company Moderna in Massachusetts. Moderna plans to start phase II of its vaccine trials soon and phase III in the summer of 2020.
Work on a COVID-19 vaccine is underway at American biotechnology company Moderna in Massachusetts. Moderna plans to start phase II of its vaccine trials soon and phase III in the summer of 2020.
Courtesy Moderna

Moderna said three patients who were given that the highest dose -- 250 mg -- showed short-lived flu-like symptoms, which they say is common in vaccines.

The report also tested the vaccine on mice and found that it prevented viral replication in the animals' lungs.

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"We believe these two data sets represent an important step forward," Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said in a conference call with reporters.

The success of the two lower doses in tests so far could be promising for future vaccine development since lower volumes per dose would mean that there would be more doses for everyone.

PHOTO: Work on a COVID-19 vaccine is underway at American biotechnology company Moderna in Massachusetts. Moderna plans to start phase II of its vaccine trials soon and phase III in the summer of 2020.
Work on a COVID-19 vaccine is underway at American biotechnology company Moderna in Massachusetts. Moderna plans to start phase II of its vaccine trials soon and phase III in the summer of 2020.
Courtesy Moderna

The company said it would start phase 2 trials soon and research two dose levels, 50 mcg and 100 mcg. It is slated to start phase 3 in July where Moderna will recruit adults who are most at risk for infection.

More than 100 vaccines are being studied for COVID-19 infection, and at least eight of these, including Moderna's, have already progressed to human studies.

This report was featured in the Tuesday, May 19, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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