A clinical trial to test a coronavirus vaccine on human subjects will begin next week, according to a US official.
The first participant will receive the experimental vaccine on Monday in order to test for any potential side effects — but they will not be infected with the virus itself.
The trial is being funded by the National Institutes of Health and will take place in Seattle, the official told the Associated Press. It will begin with 45 healthy volunteers at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.
But even if the tests go well, experts say it could take more than a year to develop and fully test a vaccine.
A number of pharmaceutical companies around the world are currently working on a vaccine for the coronavirus, which has infected more than 150,000 people and killed nearly 6,000.
One team at the University of Queensland in Australia announced last month that they had developed a potential vaccine and have begun testing on animals.
Professor Paul Young, head of the university’s school of chemistry and molecular biosciences, said the team of 20 had been working “around the clock” to speed up the process, identifying and replicating a key protein in the virus – which forms basis of their vaccine candidate – within just three weeks.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals also aims to begin safety tests of its vaccine candidate next month in a few dozen volunteers at the University of Pennsylvania and a testing centre in Kansas City, Missouri, followed by a similar study in China and South Korea.
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