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Moderna Reports Positive Results On COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

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News of a promising coronavirus vaccine trial by Moderna has fuelled market optimism and produced gains on Wall Street. The S&P 500 gained 3.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.8% in New York on these positive results. Unsurprisingly, as the world’s largest economy and hardest hit by the pandemic, the United States (U.S.) is searching for news that will speed their return to pre-coronavirus life.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) claims that there are 100 vaccines currently in the development stage worldwide. However, the Massachusetts biotechnology company, Moderna, has produced one of eight vaccines globally that have commenced testing on humans. Moderna’s vaccine was tested on forty-five participants and successfully created COVID-19 antibodies. A 25, 100 or 250 microgram dose was given to each participant via intramuscular injection with 15 people in each dose group. Of these forty-five that were tested, the demographic of these people were male and nonpregnant females aged between 18 and 55.

Two weeks after the second dose, which was day 43 of the trial, blood samples taken from the 25-microgram group saw results similar to those who had recovered from the disease based on the levels of binding antibodies. Those who received the 100-microgram dose recorded levels of antibodies that “significantly exceeded levels” in recovered patients. Unfortunately, data was not available for the group who received the second dose of 250 micrograms.

Within the group, eight people produced neutralising antibodies which experts say “appear to be important in acquiring protection” against COVID-19. Four of these people had received the 25-microgram dose while the other four received 100-micrograms. The levels of neutralising antibodies were at or above those in blood samples of recovered patients. Despite these positive results, scientists cannot definitively say that this can be recognised as a cure as some people have been reinfected after recovering from COVID-19 even though they have antibodies.

Tragically, the coronavirus has infected over 4.8 million people and killed more than 320,000 worldwide. In the U.S. alone, a worst-case scenario estimate by experts reveals that there could be between 200,000 and 1.7 million deaths from COVID-19. Moderna aims to try and release a vaccine by January 2021 although experts still believe that a successful vaccine is still 12 to 18 months away at the earliest. Phase three of the drug is set to take place in July, and fortunately, the successful trials to date support reason to believe that Moderna is on track to achieve this ambitious goal.

By Caroline Wong 

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