Early this week on Monday, the first batch of volunteers in a clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine were given shots, marking a key step in the global race to find a cure.
With careful jabs in the arms of four healthy volunteers, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle began an anxiously awaited first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time after the new virus exploded out of China and fanned out across the globe.
The first person to receive a dose of the potential vaccine was 43-year-old Jennifer Haller, an operations manager at a small tech company, according to The Associated Press. “We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” Haller said, adding that her two teenagers son “think it’s cool” that she’s taking part in the study.
Three others were next in line for the vaccine. Ultimately, 45 volunteers, ages 18 to 55, will get two doses the vaccine over a span of about 6 weeks, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
It’s not the only potential vaccine in the pipeline. Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine against COVID-19. Another candidate, made by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, is expected to begin its own safety study next month in the U.S., China and South Korea.
Some of the study’s carefully chosen healthy volunteers, ages 18 to 55, will get higher dosages than others to test how strong the inoculations should be. Scientists will check for any side effects and draw blood samples to test if the vaccine is revving up the immune system, looking for encouraging clues like the NIH earlier found in vaccinated mice.
“We don’t know whether this vaccine will induce an immune response or whether it will be safe. That’s why we’re doing a trial,” Dr. Lisa Jackson from the research institute stressed. “It’s not at the stage where it would be possible or prudent to give it to the general population.”
However, monday’s milestone marked the beginning of a series of studies in people needed to prove whether the shots are safe and could work. Even if the research goes well, a vaccine would not be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months.
World Health Organization declared the new virus outbreak a pandemic because of its rapid global spread, which has infected more than 169,000 people and killed more than 6,500.
COVID-19 has upended the world’s social and economic fabric since China first identified the virus in January, with broad regions shuttering schools and businesses, restricting travel, canceling entertainment and sporting events, and encouraging people to stay away from each other.
Hang in there, World! Hopefully the vaccine will be available soon!
Source : The Associated Press | CBS News