Health
Moderna vaccine shows promise with “robust” immune response 

By Fabian Sutch-Daggett - World Healthcare Journal

The American biotech giant Moderna released peer-reviewed clinical trial findings in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday, hailing a “robust” immune response to the vaccine.

Moderna released positive early findings in May, but many were cautious to draw conclusions without further data. However, with the recent results from the ongoing clinical trial in the US, the vaccine has been shown to generate a strong immune response in all patients tested.

Moderna’s vaccine functions by using genetic material known as messenger RNA, or mRNA. The mRNA then ‘instructs’ the immune system which antibodies and cells to produce, with the aim of eliciting a good immune response. Imperial College London is also currently developing an RNA-based vaccine.

Comprised of 3 groups of 15 patients, who took 25, 100, or 250mg doses, each group displayed an immune response in accordance with the dosage that they received.

All 45 of the patients who took part in the first stage trial produced neutralising antibodies, which for some in the high-dose groups were found at levels four times higher than patients who have recovered from a real Covid-19 infection.

Some patients did suffer side effects, such as Ian Haydon, a 29-year-old man from Seattle who participated in the trial and experienced severe chills, fever, and even fainted in his own home. Following a day of rest and fluids, he experienced no further symptoms, and around 50 per cent of the group did not report any side effects at all.

However, the jury is still out on how long the antibodies will remain present in the patients’ system. Recently, doctors have been reporting that Covid-19 reinfection is on the rise, potentially suggesting that the antibodies generated by Covid-19 infection and recovery are either too small in number, or do not remain in the system for long.

Furthermore, it is important to note that this is only the findings of Phase 1 of the clinical trial. The next stages will detail if the vaccine is truly effective at providing protection against the coronavirus. These will focus on the safety and tolerability of the vaccine, as well as testing on a much larger scale with a far more diverse group of patients.

“The safety and immunogenicity data in this preliminary report are promising, and they support the continued development of this vaccine,” Dr Penny Heaton, chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, said in an editorial article for the journal.

“However, we must bear in mind the complexity of vaccine development and the work still to be done before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. ” 


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