Human Testing Starts for Experimental Coronavirus Vaccine in the US

Pfizer, the U.S. Based company, alongside a German drugmaker named BioNTech has started testing an experimental vaccine to combat COVID-19. According to the company, the first human participants of the United States of America have been dosed with the potential vaccine BNT162.

“With our unique and robust clinical study program underway, starting in Europe and now the U.S., we look forward to advancing quickly and collaboratively with our partners at BioNTech and regulatory authorities to bring a safe and efficacious vaccine to the patients who need it most,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

“The short, less than four-month timeframe in which we’ve been able to move from pre-clinical studies to human testing is extraordinary,” he added.

The experimental drug consists a genetic material named mRNA, which tells cells what to build and what not – in this case an antigen may induce an immune response for the virus. Currently the trial is being conducted between the age group of 18 and 55, before moving to the older groups. The company is hoping to test as much as 360 people.

Currently there’s no FDA approved therapies that can cure COVID-19 and drug makers around the world are participating in a race to produce vaccine, which may take as much as 12-18 months.

According to a data by Johns Hopkins University, till date COVID-19 has affected more than 3.5 million people across the globe, and has killed at least 247,752 as of Monday night. As of April 30th, there are more than 100 vaccines in development globally, according to the World Health Organization, with at least eight vaccine candidates already in human trials.

While the hopes of getting the vaccine to market is quite high, but scientists are keeping their hopes low for how quickly it can happen. As developing, testing and reviewing any potential vaccine is often long, complex and expensive endeavor that could eventually take months or even years as per the global health experts.

Sites currently dosing participants include NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Pfizer said. The University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester Regional Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will “begin enrollment shortly,” the company said.

Pfizer and BioNTech will work jointly to commercialize the vaccine worldwide upon regulatory approval.