- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2020

The National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. have begun human trials of a leading coronavirus vaccine candidate, scientists announced Monday.

The phase-3 trial will enroll 30,000 adults at multiple clinical sites.

“Although face coverings, physical distancing and proper isolation and quarantine of infected individuals and contacts can help us mitigate [coronavirus] spread, we urgently need a safe and effective preventive vaccine to ultimately control this pandemic,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He said early trials involving the messenger-RNA vaccine from NIH and Moderna — based in Cambridge, Massachusetts— indicated the shots were safe and produced an immune response.

“This scientifically rigorous, randomized, placebo-controlled trial is designed to determine if the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 and for how long such protection may last,” Dr. Fauci said.

A vaccine is considered the critical piece in the fight against the coronavirus, which upended normal life months ago.

President Trump frequently points to progress on a number of candidates from leading drugmakers, as states grapple with rising infections, hospitalizations and deaths and reimpose a carousel of restrictions on gatherings and bars and restaurants.

The administration is doling out billions to support the pharmaceutical endeavor, saying it wants a vaccine by the start of 2021.

“Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it’s the right goal for the American people,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins said. “The launch of this phase-3 trial in record time while maintaining the most stringent safety measures demonstrates American ingenuity at its best and what can be done when stakeholders come together with unassailable objectivity toward a common goal.”

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