Early results from Moderna coronavirus vaccine trial show participants developed antibodies against the virus

Article Image

Elizabeth Cohen breaks down how vaccines work, why they keep us safe and why they're most effective when everyone gets them.

Posted: May 19, 2020 6:11 AM
Updated: May 19, 2020 6:11 AM

Volunteers who received Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine had positive early results, according to the biotech company, which partnered with the National Institutes of Health to develop the vaccine.

If future studies go well, the company's vaccine could be available to the public as early as January, Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna's chief medical officer, told CNN.

"This is absolutely good news and news that we think many have been waiting for for quite some time," Zaks said.

These early data come from the Phase 1 clinical trial, which typically studies a small number of people and focuses on whether a vaccine is safe and elicits an immune response.

The results of the study, which was led by the National Institutes of Health, have not been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.

Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of eight developers worldwide doing human clinical trials with a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization. Two others, Pfizer and Inovio, are also in the United States, one is at the University of Oxford in Britain, and four are in China.

Moderna has vaccinated dozens of study participants and measured antibodies in eight of them. All eight developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus at levels reaching or exceeding the levels seen in people who've naturally recovered from Covid-19, according to the company.

Neutralizing antibodies bind to the virus, disabling it from attacking human cells.

"We've demonstrated that these antibodies, this immune response, can actually block the virus," Zaks said. "I think this is a very important first step in our journey towards having a vaccine."

A vaccine specialist who is not involved in Moderna's work said the company's results are "great."

"It shows that not only did the antibody bind to the virus, but it prevented the virus from infecting the cells," said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the NIH panel that's setting a framework for vaccine studies in the US.


While the vaccine had promising results in the lab, it's not known if it will protect people in the real world. The US Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company to begin Phase 2 trials, which typically involve several hundred of people, and Moderna plans to start large-scale clinical trials, known as Phase 3 trials, in July. These typically involve tens of thousands of people.

Offit said before the pandemic, vaccine developers would usually test out their product in thousands of people before moving on to Phase 3, but said Moderna is "extremely unlikely" to have vaccinated that many by July, since they've only vaccinated dozens so far.

He said it makes sense to Moderna to move into Phase 3 without vaccinating that many people, given that Covid-19 is killing thousands of people each day.

"This is a different time," Offit said.

In January, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it would take about 12 to 18 months to get a vaccine on the market. Zaks said he agreed with that estimate for Moderna's vaccine, putting a delivery date somewhere between January and June of next year.

In the Moderna study, three participants developed fever and other flu-like symptoms when they received the vaccine at a dose of 250 micrograms. Moderna anticipates the Phase 3 study on dosage will be between 25 and 100 micrograms.

So far, the Moderna study subjects who were vaccinated even at 25 and 100 micrograms achieved antibody levels similar to or even higher than people who naturally became infected with coronavirus.

But it's not clear whether natural infection confers immunity to re-infection, and so similarly it's not clear whether vaccination confers immunity.

"That's a good question, and the truth is, we don't know that yet," Zaks said. "We are going to have to conduct formal efficacy trials where you vaccinate many, many people, and then you monitor them in the ensuing months to make sure they don't get sick."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 109683

Reported Deaths: 3495
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20510758
Lake10095315
Elkhart6268107
St. Joseph593596
Allen5849198
Hamilton4589109
Vanderburgh322728
Hendricks2617120
Monroe230036
Johnson2236122
Tippecanoe214213
Clark208156
Porter201144
Cass19239
Delaware182460
Vigo173822
Madison154675
LaPorte135137
Floyd128661
Howard126163
Kosciusko117417
Bartholomew114257
Warrick109335
Marshall97524
Boone94046
Dubois92718
Hancock89842
Noble86932
Grant85833
Henry74224
Wayne73614
Jackson7279
Morgan68538
Shelby66129
LaGrange62911
Daviess62827
Dearborn61628
Clinton59012
Harrison55124
Putnam5159
Lawrence50028
Montgomery49521
White47514
Knox4689
Decatur45039
Gibson4444
DeKalb43111
Miami4223
Greene41335
Fayette41213
Jasper3752
Steuben3577
Scott35010
Sullivan32612
Jennings30712
Franklin29325
Posey2910
Clay2885
Orange28124
Ripley2788
Carroll26713
Wabash2588
Washington2511
Wells2462
Starke2457
Whitley2446
Jefferson2383
Adams2343
Fulton2292
Tipton21522
Huntington2123
Spencer2074
Randolph2037
Perry19914
Newton16711
Jay1660
Owen1641
Martin1570
Rush1494
Pike1341
Vermillion1240
Fountain1152
Pulaski1131
Blackford1092
Brown993
Crawford990
Parke932
Benton880
Ohio767
Union760
Switzerland670
Warren381
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 142596

Reported Deaths: 4608
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin25658603
Cuyahoga16981643
Hamilton12622307
Montgomery7402151
Lucas7051356
Butler550899
Summit5056248
Marion305447
Mahoning2981279
Warren287648
Stark2706168
Pickaway262344
Lorain223886
Delaware209320
Fairfield198350
Columbiana191480
Trumbull1841131
Licking183562
Clark170438
Wood164671
Clermont159420
Lake155849
Medina141238
Allen135367
Miami132649
Greene131326
Portage105666
Mercer103317
Tuscarawas90819
Wayne89366
Erie88044
Ross84822
Richland77518
Madison77012
Darke75239
Belmont70427
Geauga70147
Hancock6469
Ashtabula63848
Athens5812
Lawrence58118
Shelby5599
Auglaize5559
Sandusky55220
Putnam52823
Huron5207
Union4742
Ottawa46430
Scioto4556
Seneca42914
Preble41513
Holmes3697
Muskingum3652
Jefferson3184
Henry29012
Logan2883
Champaign2853
Perry2839
Knox27715
Clinton27613
Defiance27610
Brown2722
Hardin24813
Morrow2472
Washington24223
Coshocton23011
Fulton2281
Fayette2236
Jackson2234
Highland2193
Ashland2164
Crawford2136
Wyandot20012
Williams1953
Gallia17912
Meigs1689
Hocking1599
Guernsey1557
Carroll1497
Pike1440
Adams1194
Van Wert1113
Monroe10618
Paulding1010
Harrison601
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble250
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 54°
Angola
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 54°
Huntington
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 52°
Decatur
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 54°
Van Wert
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 54°
Cool, Sunny Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events