Coronavirus vaccine test starts with 30,000 Americans receiving injection

28 July 2020, 07:01

Nurse Kathe Olmstead, right, gives volunteer Melissa Harting, of Harpersville, N.Y. an injection as the world's biggest study of a possible Covid-19 vaccine gets underway
Nurse Kathe Olmstead, right, gives volunteer Melissa Harting, of Harpersville, N.Y. an injection as the world's biggest study of a possible Covid-19 vaccine gets underway. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The biggest test so far of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine got underway on Monday in the UK with the first of 30,000 Americans rolling up their sleeves to take part.

The final stage of testing started with volunteers at numerous sites around the US given either a real dose or a dummy without being told which.

The drug developed by the US Government's National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Moderna Inc, will not yield results for several months.

Since the outbreak started it has killed around 650,000 people across the globe, including almost 150,000 in the US.

"I'm excited to be part of something like this. This is huge," said Melissa Harting, a 36-year-old nurse who received an injection in Binghamton, New York.

Another company, Pfizer Inc, announced that it had started its own study of its vaccine candidate in the US and elsewhere.


“We’ve been sitting on the sidelines passively attempting to wear our masks and social distance and not go out when it’s not necessary. This is the first step of becoming active against this,” researcher Dr. Frank Eder said at the trial site in Binghamton. “There’s really no other way to get past this.”

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Scientists set speed records getting vaccines into massive testing just months after the coronavirus emerged. But they stressed that the public should not fear that anyone is cutting corners.

"This is a significant milestone," NIH director Francis Collins said after the first test injection of Moderna's vaccine was given in Savannah, Georgia.

"Yes, we're going fast, but no, we are not going to compromise."

After volunteers get two doses a month apart, scientists will closely track which group experiences more infections as they go about their daily routines, especially in areas where the virus is spreading unchecked.

The answer probably will not come until November or December, cautioned Dr Anthony Fauci, NIH's infectious-diseases chief.

Several other vaccines made by China and Oxford University began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries earlier this month.

But the US requires its own tests of any vaccine that might be used in the country.

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