Coronavirus breakthrough as experimental vaccine gets underway in US

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Coronavirus breakthrough as experimental vaccine gets underway in US 1

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech have collaborated on the vaccine.

The companies’ coronavirus vaccine program is called BNT162.

Study participants in the program in Germany were given doses of the vaccine last week.

The US trials, taking place at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, are now underway.

The companies said the program’s Phase 1/2 study is designed to test the safety, effectiveness and best dose level of four mRNA vaccine candidates and is to be evaluated in a single, continuous study.

READ MORE: Major scientific discovery sparks hopes coronavirus could be ‘blocked’ in body

The two firms are jointly developing a vaccine candidate based on genetic material known as messenger RNA, which carries the instructions for cells to make proteins.

By injecting a specially designed messenger RNA into the body, the vaccine could potentially tell cells how to make the spike protein of the coronavirus without actually making a person sick.

The virus typically uses this protein as a key to unlock and take over lung cells, which means the vaccine could train a healthy immune system to produce antibodies to fight off an infection.

The technology also has the advantage of being faster to produce, and tends to be more stable than traditional vaccines, which use weakened virus strains.

Given the need to quash the coronavirus, vaccine makers around the world are racing to speed up their timelines for development, a process that typically takes years.

But companies are making extraordinary efforts to stagger trials and, in some cases, skip essential steps, such as animal testing.

Some experts have warned that expecting an approved vaccine within 18 months is overly optimistic, as Dr. Anthony Fauci has suggested.

A group of scientists developing a vaccine at Oxford University in England say that even 18 months is too long to wait for a vaccine.

With emergency approval, they say they are aiming to have the first few million doses of their vaccine available in September.

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