“Phase 1 of the clinical trial to evaluate an investigational vaccine designed for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Institute for Health Research in Seattle (KPWHRI),” said the NIH, which is funding this project through one of its centers, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Experts on Monday administered the vaccine to the first of 45 volunteers, all healthy adults aged 18 to 55, who will take part in the six-week experiment.
The vaccine is called RNA-1273 and was developed by scientists from NIAID and the Modern biotechnology company.
In this study, the different doses of this experimental vaccine are being evaluated for safety and their ability to induce an immune response in volunteers.
NIAID Director Anthony Fauci explained in the note that “finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection is an urgent public health priority.
Currently, there is no vaccine approved by health authorities to prevent the spread.
RNA-1273 was developed using a genetic platform called mRNA (messenger RNA), which is the ribonucleic acid that transfers the genetic code from DNA in the cell nucleus to a ribosome in the cytoplasm.
It instructs the body’s cells to express a viral protein that is expected to elicit a strong immune response.
According to NIAID, the experimental vaccine has had promising results in animal models, and this is the first time it has been tested in humans.
Scientists have been able to develop it thanks to previous studies on the coronaviruses that caused the SARS and MERS epidemics in the past.
Coronaviruses are spherical in shape and have tips, which give them the appearance of crowns. These tips are linked to human cells, allowing the virus to enter.
Scientists were already working on a MERS vaccine targeting these tips, which has served as the starting point for the current experiment.
As soon as the researchers had the genetic information of SARS-CoV-2 they were able to quickly select a sequence to express the stabilized protein of the virus spike in the mRNA platform.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the total number of global cases of COVID-19 is about 165,000, and after China, with 81,000, the countries most affected are Italy (24,700), Iran (13,900), South Korea (8,100) and Spain (7,700), although the Spanish authorities have announced that the number of infected people has now reached 8,744 and 297 deaths, which puts it ahead of the South Korean country.