We need a vaccine, and this trial is showing promising results

In March, a volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine trial received the first dose of the vaccine at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle. Interim results of the phase 1 trial were published last week by the New England Journal of Medicine, and they’re promising, says Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH. She’s a senior researcher at KPWHRI and the lead author of the study.

The published report details what happened to a test group of 45 volunteers who each received 2 doses of either 25, 100, or 250 micrograms of the vaccine. In each of these volunteers, who are ages 18 to 55, the vaccine produced a healthy immune response. In April, the trial was expanded to include adults older than 55 years, but the published results only cover the 18- to 55-year age group.

The results also indicate that those who received the vaccine candidate had no serious side effects. About half of the volunteers did report symptoms of fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches, or pain at the injection site. Symptoms were more common after the second vaccination and with the highest vaccine dose.

“The world urgently needs vaccines to protect against COVID-19,” Dr. Jackson says. “We are glad to be able to contribute to these efforts by initiating the first clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed, produced, and put into a first-in-human clinical trial in record time.”

The trial is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The vaccine is being co-developed by researchers at NIAID and Moderna, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

While the early results are promising, more testing is needed before knowing whether this vaccine will work. “Next, we need larger trials to show if the vaccine can protect people from COVID-19,” says Dr. Jackson.

If you are interested in participating as a volunteer in a future vaccine trial, KPWHRI has a registry that Seattle-area residents can join to be considered for the trial. If you live outside the Seattle area, you can join a national registry.

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