Drugmaker Moderna Inc. has shipped the first batch of its rapidly developed coronavirus vaccine to U.S. government researchers, who will launch the first human tests of whether the experimental shot could help suppress the epidemic originating in China.
Moderna on Monday sent vaccine vials from its Norwood, Mass., manufacturing plant to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., the company said. The institute expects by the end of April to start a clinical trial of about 20 to 25 healthy volunteers, testing whether two doses of the shot are safe and induce an immune response likely to protect against infection, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said in an interview. Initial results could become available in July or August.
Moderna’s turnaround time in producing the first batch of the vaccine—co-designed with NIAID, after learning the new virus’s genetic sequence in January—is a stunningly fast response to an emerging outbreak.