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Phase 3 clinical trial of investigational vaccine for COVID-19 begins in US

Phase 3 clinical trial of investigational vaccine for COVID-19 begins in US

4 August 2020
Image: Bermix Studio

Multi-site trial to test candidate developed by Moderna and NIH.

A Phase 3 clinical trial designed to evaluate if an investigational vaccine can prevent symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in adults has begun. The vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, was co-developed by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The trial, which will be conducted at US clinical research sites, is expected to enroll approximately 30,000 adult volunteers who do not have COVID-19.

“Although face coverings, physical distancing and proper isolation and quarantine of infected individuals and contacts can help us mitigate SARS-CoV-2 spread, we urgently need a safe and effective preventive vaccine to ultimately control this pandemic,” said NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. “Results from early-stage clinical testing indicate the investigational mRNA-1273 vaccine is safe and immunogenic, supporting the initiation of a Phase 3 clinical trial. This scientifically rigorous, randomised, placebo-controlled trial is designed to determine if the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 and for how long such protection may last.”

Moderna is leading the trial as the regulatory sponsor and is providing the investigational vaccine for the trial. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and NIAID are providing funding support for the trial. The vaccine efficacy trial is the first to be implemented under Operation Warp Speed(link is external), a multi-agency collaboration led by HHS that aims to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of medical countermeasures for COVID-19. 

“Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it’s the right goal for the American people,” said NIH Director Francis Collins. “The launch of this Phase 3 trial in record time while maintaining the most stringent safety measures demonstrates American ingenuity at its best and what can be done when stakeholders come together with unassailable objectivity toward a common goal.”

The NIH Coronavirus Prevention Network (CoVPN) will participate in conducting the trial. The network brings together expertise from existing NIAID-supported clinical research networks. The mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate will be tested at approximately 89 clinical research sites in the United States, 24 of which are part of the CoVPN. Investigators will use public health data and incidence trajectory modeling to identify sustained high-incidence areas and emerging hot zones, so sites near these locations can be prioritised for enrollment.

The trial is designed to evaluate the safety of mRNA-1273 and to determine if the vaccine can prevent symptomatic COVID-19 after two doses. As secondary goals, the trial also aims to study whether the vaccine can prevent severe COVID-19 or laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection with or without disease symptoms. The trial also seeks to answer if the vaccine can prevent death caused by COVID-19 and whether just one dose can prevent symptomatic COVID-19, among other objectives. 

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