Moderna Begins Phase 3 of its COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Vaccines and Placebos

Moderna (MRNA) has launched a phase 3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine. Yesterday, the first participant in the study received an injection in Savannah, Georgia.

About 30,000 volunteers at nearly 100 research sites will participate in the trial. They will be given two injections 28 days apart. Some will receive a 100 microgram dose of the vaccine and some will receive a placebo. Then, volunteers will go about their daily lives and scientists will monitor them to see if people who received the vaccine have resistance to COVID-19.

In April, the company received $483 million in government funding to assist with its efforts to develop a drug. Then, over the weekend, Moderna announced that it received another $472 million from the US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to help with phase 3 of the trial.

How Does a Vaccine Trial Work?

Moderna successfully completed phase 1 and phase 2 trials of its vaccine. A phase 1 trial typically involves a small group of people and is centered around determining whether the vaccine is safe, and whether it triggers an immune response. During phase 2, a larger group of people with varied characteristics, like age and physical health, receive the vaccine. During phase 3, thousands of people receive the vaccine to make sure it is safe and effective.

Phases 1 and 2 for Moderna’s vaccine were successful. Results showed that the vaccine generated immune responses in all volunteers. Some people experienced mild side effects, like fatigue, chills, and headaches, but the vaccine was shown to be safe overall.

Looking Ahead

Moderna is not alone in making a push to develop and test COVID-19 vaccines. A vaccine co- created by Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech SE (BNTX) is set to begin phase 3 testing this week. A vaccine made by AstraZeneca (AZN) and Oxford University is scheduled to start phase 3 testing in August.

Phase 3 testing is extremely important for determining a vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Some vaccines developed in the past have not been successful during their first phase 3 testing. However, yesterday’s injection marks an important step in progress towards a COVID-19 vaccine. If the testing goes well, Moderna has said a vaccine could be ready for distribution by the end of the year.

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