First Large-Scale Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Starts Today in Savannah, GA -- Are We Close to Getting a Vaccine?

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Pharmaceutical company Moderna announced on Monday the start of a US-backed late-stage trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The study, first to be launched under the anti-coronavirus program under the Trump administration, will test the response to the vaccine in 30,000 participants without respiratory illnesses.

US government has injected nearly USD 1 billion in Moderna's vaccine research project and has selected it as one of the first to begin large-scale human trials.

The vaccine is developed by the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with Moderna. The first US city to get the vaccination is Savannah, Georgia. 

The Moderna vaccine is an innovative kind of vaccine, based on the genetic material that makes up the novel virus. It features snippets of RNA ( a chemical cousin of DNA) in a nano-capsule that is injected into the arm.

The RNA contains instructions to produce the protein found of the outer surface of the coronavirus. It is namely this protein that stimulates the response of the immune system and the production of antibodies against the virus.

If the vaccine's protein can boost the production of the antibodies, then the vaccinated person's immune system will be able to combat the infection if exposed to it, the researchers said.

It is worth mentioning that it is an experimental vaccine, and the results are not guaranteed. The participants will not be informed whether they are getting two doses of the dummy version or the real product. The volunteers will not be in a hospital environment. They will proceed with their daily duties while being monitored by scientists.

There are more than 150 COVID-19 vaccine candidates worldwide. They are now in different stages of development, with 23 close to human trials. AstraZeneca and Moderna are leading the competition as they both have candidates in late-stage experiments.

Last week, the British firm AstraZeneca announced it is on track to be manufacturing doses by September. It expects fully-tested vaccines by the yearend, at the earliest.

According to Francis Collins from the National Institutes of Health, providing an effective vaccine by the end of 2020 is indeed a ''stretch goal,'' but it is the right one for the Americans.

Last week, Dr. Stephen Hoge, the president of Moderna, said that they are ''cautiously optimistic'' that the large-scale will be successful, and we will have an effective vaccine by the end of the year.

What do you think? Are we going to have an efficient vaccine by the yearend?