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First coronavirus vaccine trialled in US boosts immune system just as scientists hoped as it’s set for final tests

VACCINE BREAKTHROUGH

A VACCINE for Covid-19 has been found to induce immune responses in all of the volunteers who received it during a Phase 1 study.

The vaccine is the first to have its results published in a peer-reviewed medical journal and is expected to begin a large Phase 3 trial later this month, which is the final stage before regulators consider whether to make it available.

Developed by Moderna, the vaccine trigged the immune response with mild side effects, including fatigue, chills, headache and muscle pain, according to a press release from the biotechnology company.

"The Company remains on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021," the company said.

“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press.

The vaccine was developed by Fauci’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health alongside Moderna Inc.

It will start its Phase 3 study around July 27, which is a 30,000-person study to prove if the shots are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.

In the Phase 1 study, "the goal was to look at safety and then to look at immune responses," Dr. Lisa Jackson, a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle who led the study.

"We thought the immune responses look promising, but we don't know whether the levels we're seeing would actually protect against infection.

It's really hard to know that until you do the actual efficacy trial," she said. "So we're laying the groundwork for the trial that will provide those answers."

The 45 early volunteers developed neutralizing antibodies in their bloodstream, which are the molecules key to blocking infection, at levels comparable to those found in people who survived COVID-19, the research team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The vaccine requires two doses, a month apart.

Some of those reactions are similar to coronavirus symptoms but they’re temporary, lasting about a day and occur right after vaccination, researchers noted.

Tuesday’s results only included younger adults.

The first-step testing later was expanded to include dozens of older adults, the age group most at risk from COVID-19 but the results aren’t public yet as regulators are still evaluating them.

Fauci said final testing will include older adults, as well as people with chronic health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus, and Black and Latino populations.

Nearly two dozen possible COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world, according to AP.

In the US alone there have been almost 140,000 deaths and more than 3.4 million cases.

Worldwide there are more than 13 million cases and more than 570,000 deaths.

Cases have spiked in the US following states reopening bars, gyms, salons and other public venues.

In Florida, more than 12,700 cases were reported in just one day, with one specialist saying Miami is now the "epicenter" of the pandemic.

"What we are seeing in Wuhan six months ago, now we're there," said Lilian Abbo, an infectious-diseases specialist from the University of Miami Health System.

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