The first testing in humans of an experimental vaccine for the new coronavirus began on Monday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced.

The main goal of this first set of tests is to find out if the potential vaccine is safe. If it is, later study will determine how well it works.

The trial was “launched in record speed,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the institute’s director, said in a statement.

Such rapid development of a potential vaccine is unprecedented, and it was possible because researchers were able to use what they already knew about related coronaviruses that had caused other diseases outbreaks, SARS and MERS.

Despite the rapid progress, even if the vaccine is proved safe and effective against the virus, it will not be available for at least a year.

The tests, which are being conducted at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, use a vaccine made by Moderna Inc.

Seattle was chosen as a test site before the United States had any known coronavirus cases, not because of the outbreak that erupted there. Washington State has been hard hit by the virus, with more than 670 cases to date.

Moderna uses genetic material — messenger RNA — to make vaccines, and the company has nine others in various stages of development, including several for viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. But no vaccine made with this technology has yet reached the market.

The infectious disease institute has been working with Moderna because the RNA approach can produce vaccine very quickly, said Dr. Barney Graham, the deputy director of the institute’s Vaccine Research Center.
-NY Times

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