FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2018, file photo, a medical assistant at a community health center gives a patient a flu shot in Seattle. A newer kind of flu vaccine worked a little bit better in seniors this past winter than traditional shots, the government reported Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
An underreported piece of potentially good news has bubbled up from the Pacific Northwest, the area of the United States that has essentially served as ground zero for coronavirus infection in the lower 48.
The first doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine were administered to volunteers at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle Monday.
“We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” Jennifer Haller, 43, of Seattle said before getting vaccinated. Her two teenagers “think it’s cool” that she’s taking part in the study.
After the injection, she left the exam room with a big smile: “I’m feeling great.”
Three others were next in line for a test that will ultimately give 45 volunteers two doses, a month apart.
The AP reports that the participants are safe from actually getting the virus since the vaccine, code-named mRNA-1273, does not contain the virus itself. It was created by the NIH and Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna Inc. and is one of dozens being developed in what has become a near arms race to be the first to present a viable vaccine.
The vaccines being administered are part of what the scientists are calling a “first-in-humans study” that came together mere months after COVID-19 began its path across the globe.
“[G]oing from not even knowing that this virus was out there … to have any vaccine” in testing in about two months is unprecedented, [Kaiser Permanente study leader Dr. Lisa] Jackson told the AP.
The safety test, which will be replicated by another pharma company next month in the U.S., China, and South Korea, is a way to determine the safety and efficacy of the new vaccines since ultimately they would be given to millions of people across the globe. That reality means a widely available test would not happen for another 8 to 12 months. But the test is an important first step in battling a virus that his literally ground the entire world to a halt.