COVID-19 vaccine: “That is how our country will begin to move forward,” says Fauci

The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Moderna, for its COVID-19 vaccine, which was co-developed with scientists at the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Moderna.

This partnership has enabled NIH and Moderna to develop a COVID-19 vaccine within a year that will be manufactured and distributed across the US. The vaccine – mRNA-1273 – is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine against COVID-19 encoding a prefusion stabilised form of the Spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2, co-developed by investigators from Moderna and NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center.

The approach to stabilise the coronavirus spike protein, called S-2P, was developed by NIAID scientists and their collaborators at Scripps Research, Dartmouth College and the University of Texas at Austin. NIAID supported the early development of the mRNA-1273 vaccine, and worked with scientists at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), to support the mid- and late-stages of clinical development, with BARDA leading government support of the scale-up of manufacturing and regulatory pathway to EUA.

The mRNA-1273 vaccine is the second COVID-19 vaccine in the US to be granted an EUA.

“It has been less than a year since the world first learned of SARS-CoV-2 and the terrible disease it can cause. To have not one but two safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines ready for deployment to the American public is truly a remarkable scientific achievement, and a significant step toward ending the pandemic that has caused so much suffering. The partnership to develop the mRNA-1273 vaccine is a prime example of the tremendous good that can be accomplished when the public and private sectors work together to address a serious public health problem. It is through the dedicated efforts of our federal scientists and their collaborators at Moderna and in academia, the clinical staff who conducted the vaccine’s rigorous clinical trials, and the tens of thousands of study participants who selflessly rolled up their sleeves, that another safe and highly effective vaccine to protect against COVID-19 will soon be rolled out to the American public,” said: NIH Director Francis Collins.

“Several years before SARS-CoV-2 entered the public consciousness, NIAID scientists were working with Moderna to develop vaccines for other coronaviruses. That existing scientific foundation is what enabled both partners to move quickly to develop the mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate against the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. NIAID conducted the initial Phase I testing of the vaccine and, with the support of BARDA and other Operation Warp Speed partners, played a central role in its large-scale clinical trial. Throughout each stage of clinical testing, the Moderna vaccine proved to be safe and highly effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. In a study of more than 30,000 people, it demonstrated 94% efficacy, and subsequent analyses have revealed that the vaccine induces a durable immune response. There is much we still do not know about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. However, we do know that this vaccine is safe and can prevent symptomatic COVID-19 and severe disease. It is my hope that all Americans will protect themselves by getting vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to them. That is how our country will begin to heal and move forward,” said NIAID Director Anthony Fauci.

“Today stands as a reminder of what can be accomplished when people come together to reach a common goal. We are working with a constant sense of urgency to bring vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to bear to end the crisis. As partners in Operation Warp Speed, NIAID and BARDA scientists collaborated with Moderna, adding BARDA’s expertise in late-stage clinical trials, scale-up manufacturing and regulatory requirements. By collaborating, we were able to complete these steps in parallel and accelerate the development of a safe and effective vaccine. While we celebrate today’s accomplishment, we recognize that there is still much work to do to ensure every American who wants a COVID-19 vaccine receives one. Every American has been touched in some way by this virus, and so we will continue to push forward. With continued collaboration and investment in scientific research, health security, and innovative public-private partnerships, we can achieve a safer, more prepared world,” said BARDA Director Gary Disbrow.

Image credit: Kate Trifo



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