Scientists recently concluded an initial human test of a new COVID-19 vaccine, and the results were encouraging. As a result, the stock market got a little boost as investors were hopeful that an end to the lockdowns and restrictions may finally be in sight.
Conducted by biotech company Moderna with cooperation from the federal government, the preliminary study included 45 healthy adults between the ages of 18-55. To verify the efficacy of the treatment, the participants received varying doses of 25μg (low), 100μg (medium), and 250μg (high) of the drug known as mRNA-1273, 28 days apart.
At the conclusion of the study, those who received a higher dose had a higher number of antibodies. Side effects, of which half of those studied suffered from, included “fatigue, chills, headache, myalgia, and pain at the injection site,” which were more common after the second dose. The group with the highest dose usually had one or more adverse effects, and that dosage level has been dropped for future studies.
Due to the fairly positive results, the researchers will expand the study to 30,000 beginning on July 28. According to the application filed with the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “the study is designed to primarily evaluate the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of mRNA-1273 to prevent COVID-19 for up to two years after the second dose of mRNA-1273.”
RNA-based vaccines are growing in popularity due to the expediency at which it can be produced and the effectiveness of the vaccines, but, unlike regular vaccines, “RNA vaccines work by introducing an mRNA sequence (the molecule which tells cells what to build) which is coded for a disease-specific antigen. Once produced within the body, the antigen is recognized by the immune system, preparing it to fight the real thing.”
Basically, instead of introducing a dead or inactivated disease into your body to build immunity, this one will add a sequence to your RNA, which is similar to DNA but just single-stranded.
If it proves effective after the large-scale study, which is scheduled to end in late October, this vaccine could potentially be available to the masses.
Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett, a viral immunologist who led the team that developed the vaccine, reported, “It exceeds all expectations.”
Other scientists remain somewhat skeptical and cautious, with one stating, “Just because you have the antibodies doesn’t mean you’re completely immune.”
Though, if the vaccine is able to mitigate the symptoms of COVID-19, making it a bad cold rather than a severe respiratory illness, then scientists would consider that a win.
There are also questions about how long the vaccine’s protection would last. In the study, the researchers admitted that previous studies surrounding SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), which are similar in nature to COVID-19, suggest that the vaccine “may not generate long-lived antibody responses.” The participants will be followed for a year with scheduled blood collections to monitor their continuing response to the vaccine.
Oxford University is also running a trial with a different vaccine, which has also had positive results. The study is scheduled for publication in The Lancet on Thursday.
For the stock market and many Americans, this is good news. According to Fox Business, the stock market had some early gains with the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting an increase of 428 points, and the S&P500 and the Nasdaq Composite both rose at about 1%.
Most of the boosts were reflected in industries that were hardest hit by the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, including the airlines, casinos, and hotels. Goldman Sachs also reported positive gains, which exceeded estimates.
It remains uncertain if this is the beginning of the end for the international lockdowns, but if various studies continue to post positive results a vaccine may be available sooner rather than later.
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