Government official: Coronavirus vaccine trial starts Monday

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A gun store customer that gave his name only at John waits in line, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Burbank, Calif. As consumers are buying all kinds of goods in large quantities amid coronavirus concerns, putting pressure on inventories, John stated that he was there to buy ammunition because most other stores were out and he wanted to stock up. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A clinical trial evaluating a vaccine designed to protect against the coronavirus will begin Monday, according to a government official.

The first participant in the trial will receive the experimental vaccine on Monday, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the trial has not been publicly announced. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, the official said.

Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.

Testing will begin with 45 young, healthy volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. Participants cannot get infected from the shots, because they don’t contain the virus itself. The goal is purely to check that the vaccines show no worrisome side effects, setting the stage for larger tests.

Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. Importantly, they’re pursuing different types of vaccines—shots developed from new technologies that are faster to produce than traditional inoculations and may prove more potent. Some researchers aim for temporary vaccines, like shots that work for a month or two at a time while longer-lasting protection is developed.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, experience more severe illness, like pneumonia. The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 156,000 people and left more than 5,800 dead. The death toll in the U.S. is over 50, while infections neared 3,000 across 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three weeks to six weeks to recover.

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