First batch of coronavirus vaccine sent for clinical studies

U.S. biotech company Moderna said that it has shipped its first batch of novel coronavirus vaccine to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for further research.

Vials of mRNA-1273 have been shipped to the NIAID to be used by government researchers in what is known as a Phase 1 Study at the National Institutes of Health, according to the Cambridge-based company.

Moderna, in cooperation with investigators at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center, used a molecule called mRNA that transfers genetic information into cells, mimicking a natural infection to stimulate a more potent immune response.

The vaccine could mimic the spike protein found on the novel coronavirus and other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said that if successful, initial clinical trials will start within 2.5 months to test the vaccine's safety on a small group of people.