Experimental COVID-19 vaccine is put to its biggest test yet
The biggest test yet of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine got underway Monday with the first of some 30,000 Americans rolling up their sleeves to receive shots created by the U.S. government as part of the all-out global race to stop the pandemic.
Final-stage testing of the vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., began with volunteers at numerous sites around the U.S. given either a real dose or a dummy without being told which.
“I’m excited to be part of something like this. This is huge,” said Melissa Harting, a 36-year-old nurse who received an injection in Binghamton, New York. Especially with family members in front-line jobs that could expose them to the virus, she added, “Doing our part to eradicate it is very important to me.”
Another company, Pfizer Inc., announced late Monday that it had started its own study of its vaccine candidate in the U.S. and elsewhere. That study also aimed to recruit 30,000 people.
It will be months before results trickle in, and there is no guarantee the vaccines will ultimately work against the scourge that has killed more than 650,000 people around the world, including almost 150,000 in the U.S.
“We’ve been sitting on the sidelines passively attempting to wear our masks and social distance and not go out when it’s not necessary. This is the first step of becoming active against this,” said Dr. Frank Eder of Meridian Clinical Research, the company that runs the Binghamton trial site. “There’s really no other way to get past this.”
As if to underline how high the stakes are, there were more setbacks in efforts to contain the coronavirus.
In Washington, the Trump administration disclosed that national security adviser Robert O’Brien has the virus — the highestranking U.S. official to test positive so far. The White House said he has mild symptoms and “has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site.”
Two Major League Baseball games scheduled for Monday night were called off as the Miami Marlins coped with an outbreak. And in Europe, rising infections in Spain and other countries caused alarm only weeks after nations reopened their borders in hopes of reviving tourism.
Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot in Binghamton, New York, as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine gets underway.