A coronavirus vaccine trial in the US has now given a dose to its first participant, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced Monday.
The study aims to enroll a total of 45 healthy adults over a six-week time frame. Each participant will receive two injections about a month apart in varying doses.
There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus.
The study, which is a Phase I trial, is meant to establish that the vaccine is safe and induces a desired response from participants’ immune systems. Proving that the vaccine is effective in preventing Covid-19 infection, however, will require follow-up studies involving many more participants, which will take many more months, experts say.
“Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with (the novel coronavirus) is an urgent public health priority,” NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement Monday. “This Phase 1 study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”
The agency credited the speed with which it stood up a Phase I trial to its prior studies on related coronaviruses SARS and MERS. Scientists had previously worked on an experimental MERS vaccine targeting a protein on the virus’ surface, which gave them a “head start for developing a vaccine candidate to protect against Covid-19,” the statement said.