The first doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine were administered Monday to three volunteers.
The vaccine, mRNA-1273, was developed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Moderna Inc, a biotechnology company. Unlike most vaccines, this one does not contain a weakened version of the virus it seeks to counteract. Therefore, no chance exists that its recipients can get sick, according to the Associated Press.
MRNA-1273 has been injected into the arms of three volunteers at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle. It will ultimately be tested on 45 study participants who will be given two doses, one month apart, reports the AP.
AP: Scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle have given a healthy volunteer the first shot of an experimental coronavirus vaccine as anxiously awaited testing opens
— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) March 16, 2020
Despite the relative speed with which this trial vaccine was developed, it will not see public availability for 12-18 months Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health told the AP. (RELATED: Surgeon General Warns ‘We Could Be Italy’ If People Don’t Take Virus Containment Seriously)
Should the mRNA-1273 vaccine fail, dozens more are currently in development, including one made by Inovio Pharmaceuticals which is slated to begin its trials in the U.S., China and South Korea next month, according to the AP.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic last week. Since the virus began spreading in China, it has infected at least 160,000 people worldwide, resulting in over 6,500 deaths, according to CBC News. Over 3,700 of these cases have occured within the U.S., resulting in 71 deaths from the virus on American soil as of Monday.