There are a lot of caveats here, so don’t get too excited, but new results for an experimental COVID vaccine look promising.
The vaccine in question is made by the pharmaceutical company Moderna. Back in March, you might remember, we interviewed one of the first volunteers to be injected with it.
“If I am healthy and can help take part in trying to reduce the pain, suffering and deaths associated with this pandemic, I would be remiss not to,” he said at the time.
Now, Moderna has released the results of that trial, which presents good news on two fronts: the vaccine appears to be safe, and the patients’ blood are showing high levels of the antibodies found in the blood of COVID patients who have recovered from the illness.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the patients are now immune — but it is an exciting sign that they may be. A company spokesperson even told the New York Times that if future tests continue to go well, the vaccine could be widely available by the end of this year.
“We are very, very happy because first the vaccine was generally safe,” Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna said in an interview with the Washington Post. “The piece that was really exciting and was the big question, of course, was can you find antibodies in people in enough quantities [to fight off the virus].”
The company’s stock price surged after the announcement, according to the NYT.
Other researchers agreed that the results appear promising.
“The fact that the vaccine elicited neutralizing antibody amounts comparable or higher to those found in convalescent sera [plasma] is very encouraging,” said Arturo Casadevall, chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Post.
At the same time, experts are urging caution.
“I would certainly take this as good news, and it’s certainly worth moving forward,” Daniel Salmon, the director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Post. “There’s just historically, if you look at vaccine development, lots of vaccines that look good out of phase one that don’t turn out to be good products.”
Even if this particular vaccine doesn’t work out, many more are under development worldwide.
And still, a potential vaccine is exciting. Let us have a little hope during this dark time.
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READ MORE: Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Shows Promising Early Results [The New York Times]
More on antibodies: Good News: Human Body Builds “Robust” Immune Response to COVID