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Coronavirus Vaccine Test Opens With 1st Doses

EEUU prueba la primera vacuna experimental para coronavirus

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. researchers gave the first shot to the first person in a test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday — leading off a worldwide hunt for protection even as the pandemic surges.

With a careful jab in a healthy volunteer’s arm, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle begin an anxiously awaited first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time after the new virus exploded from China and fanned across the globe.

The Associated Press observed as the study’s first participant, an operations manager at a small tech company, received the injection inside an exam room. Three others were next in line for a test that will ultimately give 45 volunteers two doses, a month apart.

Monday’s milestone marked just the beginning of a series of studies in people needed to prove whether the shots are safe and could work. Even if the research goes well, a vaccine wouldn’t be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months, said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Still, finding a vaccine “is an urgent public health priority,” Fauci said in a statement Monday. The new study, “launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”

This vaccine candidate, code-named mRNA-1273, was developed by the NIH and Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna Inc. There’s no chance participants could get infected from the shots because they don’t contain the coronavirus itself.

It’s not the only potential vaccine in the pipeline. Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine against COVID-19. Another candidate, made by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, is expected to begin its own safety study — in the U.S., China and South Korea — next month.

The Seattle experiment got underway days after the World Health Organization declared the new virus outbreak a pandemic because of its rapid global spread, infecting more than 169,000 people and killing more than 6,500.

COVID-19 has upended the world’s social and economic fabric since China first identified the virus in January, with regions shuttering schools and businesses, restricting travel, canceling entertainment and sporting events, and encouraging people to stay away from each other.

Starting what scientists call a first-in-humans study is a momentous occasion for scientists, but Jackson described her team’s mood as “subdued.” They’ve been working round-the-clock readying the research in a part of the U.S. struck early and hard by the virus.

Still, “going from not even knowing that this virus was out there … to have any vaccine” in testing in about two months is unprecedented, Jackson told The AP.

Some of the study’s carefully chosen healthy volunteers, ages 18 to 55, will get higher dosages than others to test how strong the inoculations should be. Scientists will check for any side effects and draw blood samples to test if the vaccine is revving up the immune system, looking for encouraging clues like the NIH earlier found in vaccinated mice.

Most of the vaccine research under way globally targets a protein aptly named “spike” that studs the surface of the new coronavirus and lets it invade human cells. Block that protein and people won’t get infected.

Researchers at the NIH copied the section of the virus’ genetic code that contains the instructions for cells to create the spike protein. Moderna encased that “messenger RNA” into a vaccine.

The idea: The body will become a mini-factory, producing some harmless spike protein. When the immune system spots the foreign protein, it will make antibodies to attack — and be primed to react quickly if the person later encounters the real virus.

That’s a much faster way of producing a vaccine than the traditional approach of growing virus in the lab and preparing shots from either killed or weakened versions of it.

But because vaccines are given to millions of healthy people, it takes time to test them in large enough numbers to spot an uncommon side effect, cautioned Dr. Nelson Michael of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, which is developing a different vaccine candidate.





SEATTLE (AP) — Investigadores de Estados Unidos aplicaron el lunes la primera vacuna experimental contra el coronavirus, colocándose al frente de una carrera mundial mientras se extiende la pandemia.

Con una cuidadosa inyección en el brazo de una voluntaria saludable, los científicos del Instituto de Investigación Permanente Kaiser de Washington en Seattle comenzaron la ansiada primera fase de un estudio para una posible vacuna para la enfermedad COVID-19 desarrollada en tiempo récord, dado que el virus comenzó a circular en China a finales de 2019 y después se extendió a todo el mundo.

“Ahora somos el equipo coronavirus”, dijo la doctora Lisa Jackson, líder del estudio. “Todos quieren hacer lo que puedan en esta emergencia”.

The Associated Press observó cuando la primera participante del estudio, una gerente de operaciones de una pequeña compañía tecnológica, recibió la inyección en una sala de auscultación. Tres personas más esperaban una prueba en la que 45 voluntarios recibirán dos dosis con un mes se diferencia.

“Todos nos sentimos muy indefensos. Ésta es una gran oportunidad para hacer algo”, dijo Jennifer Haller, de 43 años de Seattle, mientras esperaba la vacuna. Tras la inyección, salió de la sala con una gran sonrisa: “Me siento genial”.

El hito del lunes marcó sólo el inicio de una serie de estudios en personas necesarios para demostrar si las vacunas son seguras y podrían funcionar. Incluso si la investigación es exitosa, la vacuna no estaría disponible para su uso extenso hasta dentro de 12 a 18 meses, dijo el doctor Anthony Fauci de los Institutos Nacionales de la Salud de Estados Unidos (NIH).

Este candidato a vacuna, conocido con el código mRNA-1273, fue desarrollado por el NIH y la compañía biotecnológica Moderna Inc. son sede en Massachusetts. No hay posibilidad de que se contagien los participantes porque las vacunas no contienen el coronavirus en sí.

No es la única posible vacuna en el horno. Decenas de grupos de investigación en el mundo se apresuran para crear una vacuna contra COVID-19. Se prevé que otro candidato, elaborado por Inovio Pharmaceuticals, comience el próximo mes sus propios estudios de seguridad en Estados Unidos, China y Corea del Sur.

La pandemia del coronavirus ha infectado a más de 169.000 personas y matado a más de 6.500 en todo el mundo.

La enfermedad COVID-19 provoca síntomas leves o moderados para muchos y la gran mayoría se recupera. Algunas personas, especialmente ancianos o con problemas médicos previos, pueden sufrir complicaciones como la neumonía.

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