LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A new report of success after the initial testing of a possible COVID-19 vaccine is raising hopes of a vaccine being available to the public by the end of the year.
An experimental vaccine by Moderna, an American biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Mass., has produced positive results in a small group of test subjects. It is the first potential coronavirus vaccine to be tested on people.
“These antibodies were proven to be able to block the ability of the virus to infect cells,” Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal Zaks said. “So really this is a very first important step in the journey toward having a vaccine available for people who need it the most.”
While hopeful, experts caution against early high expectations.
The clearest conclusion of an experimental vaccine that produces coronavirus antibodies in a small test group is that more testing is needed.
“What’s unusual about this vaccine is that we are pushing out vaccine in the middle of an outbreak,” UK epidemiology professor Kathleen Winters said. “So more humans will get the vaccine at earlier stages of development than we normally see with typical vaccine development.”
Still ahead are important questions that need to be answered. Is the vaccine safe? Does the vaccine produce antibodies that will prevent people from getting sick?
“And that’s something we also don’t know,” IU Department of Microbiology and Immunology Chairman Mark Kaplan said, “that when you’re vaccinated, is it going to be immunity that’s going to last for a longer period of time?”
Answers could come quickly. The Food and Drug Administration has fast-tracked testing. Soon, a second round involving 600 volunteers will begin. If all goes well, testing could involve thousands more subjects this summer.