“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
According to researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the group developing the vaccine with Moderna, the vaccine appeared safe in the first 45 people who tested it. The vaccine used genetic material found in the virus to cause the immune system to fight COVID-19.
The volunteers were all healthy adults between the ages of 18 to 55. Each person received two separate vaccinations exactly 28 days apart. All of the volunteers developed antibodies after the second shot, and more than half of them experienced non-serious side effects.
It is not certain if this vaccine will make someone completely immune, but it could drastically reduce the severity of the illness – reducing COVID-19 to a bad cold.
This vaccine was the first one in development to be tested on humans. The next stage, Phase 3, will test the vaccine on 30,000 volunteers. Half of the people will receive the vaccine, and half of the people will receive placebos. The researchers will need to find that those in the former group were less likely to contract COVID-19 than those in the latter.
Even if this vaccine works, it will not immediately eradicate the virus. According to experts, we will need more than one, as no single company can produce the number of vaccinations necessary. Additionally, we do not yet have an infrastructure for distribution – a process that could leave many communities susceptible to the virus long after the creation of a vaccine.
The United States has seen over 3.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. 136,000 people have lost their lives to the virus, and an estimated 5.5 million people have lost their employer-provided healthcare during this time.
A virologist at Columbia University in New York, Dr. Angela Rasmussen, said of the news: “None of us are safe unless all of us are safe… it’s not just us. It’s everybody in the world.”
Sources: The Hill 07/16, The New York Times 07/16, AP 07/16, Vox 07/16