THE LARGEST Covid-19 vaccine study in the world is underway in the US with experts claiming a jab could be available by the end of the year.
The experimental vaccine has been developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna and over 30,000 volunteers are set to receive it.
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It comes just days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that a vaccine for Covid-19 would not be ready by the end of 2020.
Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies programme, said the first use of a Covid-19 jab cannot be expected until early 2021.
Despite this the team in the US are “cautiously optimistic that the vaccine will work”.
In order to determine whether or not the jab works, scientists need proof.
The vaccine to be trialled in Savannah, Georgia, is in Phase 3 of the jab process and volunteers who are part of the trial won’t know whether they are getting a real jab or a placebo.
Once the volunteers have been given the vaccine scientists will track the two groups to determine which are more infections during their daily routine.
So far in the US there have been over 4.32 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and over 149,000 deaths.
Doctor Anthony Fauci said the US “unfortunately has enough cases to determine how the virus is spreading”.
Several other vaccines made by China and Oxford University in the UK began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries earlier this month.
Last week UK scientists announced announced early trials of a vaccine called ChAdOx1 is safe and triggers a strong immune response.
The data from Oxford University research involved more than 1,000 healthy volunteers.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said the trial result announcement was a “great day for British science.”
While vaccine trials continue to progress in other countries, the US requires its own tests of any vaccine that might be used in the country and has set a high bar.
If everything goes right with the final studies, it still will take months for the first data to trickle in from the Moderna test, followed by the Oxford one.
Governments around the world are trying to stockpile millions of doses of those leading candidates so if and when regulators approve one or more vaccines, immunisations can begin immediately.
The first available doses will be rationed and reserved for people at highest risk from the virus.
Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Massachusetts-based Moderna said: “Were optimistic, cautiously optimistic that the vaccine will work and that toward the end of the year there will be data to prove it.”
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