Second US Coronavirus vaccine trial, that could be revolutionary, kicks off

  • Two candidate vaccines for COVID-19 have entered the first phase of human clinical trials

  • US-based Inovio biotech company gets nod from FDA for the new vaccine study

  • The study is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

While the US has already started a human trial for Coronavirus vaccine in Seattle in March, another US-based company is getting ready to begin for a safety test of a different vaccine against the COVID-19.

The biotechnology company, Inovio Pharmaceuticals said that it has received permission from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the new vaccine study in 40 healthy volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri. The company announced on Monday, April 6 that it has plans to give the first dose of the experimental vaccine on the same day of the experiment.

The new vaccine study in the US

bill gates
Bill Gates Wikimedia commons

It should be noted that this study is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The research is the first step to see whether the vaccine would pass the safety levels for larger tests to prove whether is helps contain the Coronavirus. If the study goes well, it is expected to take over a year before any vaccine for COVID-19 could be widely available.

In March, the first trial of a different Coronavirus vaccine on people began in Seattle which was developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Moderna Inc and then China also joined the race. However, citing these two potential vaccines from US and China, World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that two candidate vaccines for COVID-19 have entered the first phase of human clinical trials and another 60 candidate vaccines are currently in pre-clinical studies.

COVID-19 vaccine by Inovio Pharmaceuticals

COVID-19 vaccine trial (Representational picture)

The Pennsylvania based company's approach will be a DNA vaccine, made using a section of the virus's genetic code packaged inside a piece of synthetic DNA. Inovio has already begun recruiting volunteers for its study in each of the two locations, while the testing will take place at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine and the Center for Pharmaceutical Research in Kansas City.

Each of the volunteers will receive two doses of the experimental vaccine, given four weeks apart. Dr Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease specialist and professor of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania said, "There has been tremendous interest in this vaccine among people who want to do what they can to help protect the greater public from this pandemic as soon as possible."

As per the biotech company, it will accumulate enough data to do an initial assessment of the vaccine's safety. They have also planned to analyze whether or not the new vaccine triggers an immune response in the participants by this summer. Earlier, Inovio started developing a vaccine for MERS in 2012 and when they tested the vaccine, the researchers noticed that 95 percent of trial participants' bodies generated high levels of virus-fighting antibodies. The vaccine also boosted immune system response for 90 percent of phase one trial's participants.

In terms of COVID-19, researchers said the Inovio's new COVID-19 vaccine showed convincing effects during the lab studies, so they are hopeful about a good result when it comes to human trials. While preparing for the human trials, Inovio said that it has already manufactured thousands of doses of the new potential Coronavirus vaccine, which is called as INO-4800, in the past 10 weeks. As per the company, they plan to have one million doses ready by the end of 2020.

Related topics : Coronavirus