Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine shows promising results in a small trial of elderly patients
It’s been a while since we last wrote about Moderna. Late last month, Moderna announced it has begun the final-stage testing of its mRNA vaccine which it says could be ready for use by the end of 2020. Today, the company said the vaccine testing as planned.
In an announcement Wednesday, the biotech company said its potential coronavirus vaccine has generated a promising immune response in elderly patients in an early-stage clinical trial. Moderna said it tested its mRNA vaccine on 10 adults between the ages of 56 and 70 and 10 elderly adults aged 71 and older, with each participant receiving two 100 microgram doses of the vaccine 28 days apart.
After receiving the vaccine, Moderna said, the vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies in the volunteers, which researchers believe are necessary to build immunity to the virus, and killer T-cells. The results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Additionally, the antibodies that were produced were higher than those seen in people who have recovered from Covid-19.
mRNA, or Messenger RNA, is a single-stranded molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene. mRNA plays a fundamental role in human biology, transferring the instructions stored in DNA to make the proteins required in every living cell. Moderna’s approach is to use the mRNA vaccine to instruct a patient’s own cells to produce proteins that could prevent, treat, or cure the deadly virus.
Moderna added that the vaccine appeared to be well tolerated by the elderly patients, with no serious adverse events reported, the company said. According to the company, some patients reported fatigue, chills, headaches, and pain at the injection site, though the majority of symptoms resolved within two days.
Early this month, Moderna reached a $1.5 billion deal with a U.S. government to supply 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. government, as a part of Operation Warp Speed, will also have the option to purchase up to an additional 400 million doses of mRNA-1273 from Moderna. The U.S. government has announced that consistent with its commitment to free access to COVID-19 vaccines, Americans will receive mRNA-1273 at no cost for the vaccine itself. As is customary with government-purchased vaccines, healthcare professionals could charge for the cost of administering the vaccine.