US biotech firm Moderna reported “positive interim” results on Monday in the first clinical tests of its vaccine against the coronavirus performed on a small number of volunteers.
In the eight trial subjects who received it, the vaccine, mRNA-1273, appeared to produce an immune response of the same magnitude as that observed in people convalescing from the virus, the company said.
The clinical test was carried out by the National Institutes of Health, and the US government has invested a half-billion dollars in the development of Moderna’s vaccine candidate.
Three groups of 15 patients received three different doses of the vaccine.
The complete results of the Phase 1 test, the first in the development of a vaccine and which in this case involved 45 participants, were not yet known.
The vaccine “was generally safe and well-tolerated,” Moderna said in a statement.
“These interim phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection,” Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said.
Phase 2 tests, with a larger number of subjects, should begin soon, according to Moderna. The Phase 3 trial, the last and most important to validate the efficacy of a vaccine, should begin in July.
Separate tests performed on mice showed that the vaccine prevented the virus from replicating in their lungs, according to the company.
“The Moderna team continues to focus on moving as fast as safely possible to start our pivotal Phase 3 study in July,” said Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO.