Much of the world has pinned its hopes on a vaccine as a way out of the Covid-19 pandemic that has infected more than 15 million and killed more than 630,000 people globally.
The World Health Organization says there are 25 potential coronavirus vaccines in clinical trials internationally.
Here in the United States, the government has put its money behind several different vaccine candidates through Operation Warp Speed.
One of those vaccines is being developed by the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in partnership with the biotechnology company Moderna. The vaccine is expected to enter Phase 3 testing next week. This phase of the trial is expected to involve 30,000 volunteers and will test whether the vaccine protects people against the coronavirus.
Early results from the Phase 1 study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in mid-July. The study showed that the vaccine, given at three different doses, triggered an immune response in the people who received it (the higher the dose, the higher the immune response). More than half of the participants experienced side effects including fatigue, chills, headache, muscle pain and pain at the injection site. The Phase 3 trial will involve the middle dose --100 micrograms (µg).
I'm hoping that this vaccine could be as much as 70 or 80% effective -- I think that would be a success. We need 60 or 70% of immunity [in the population] to really establish what's called herd immunity. That means almost 100% of people would have to be vaccinated to establish that level of immunity in the population. So, if a third of people don't take it, we'll only be able to reach around 40 or 50% immunity in the population with that type of a vaccine. I think it's really important for that third of people to come along and try to help us and understand how these vaccines work so they won't be so hesitant.
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