With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide now at more than 25 million, any news involving potential vaccines is important, which is why a recent announcement from AstraZeneca Plc is exciting.
The British multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, which has its headquarters in Cambridge, England, says it has begun to enroll 30,000 participants aged above 18 in the United States for a large-scale human trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222.
The US trial will evaluate whether the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 infection or keep the illness from becoming severe, the National Institutes of Health said in a statement. It also will assess if the vaccine can reduce incidence of emergency department visits due to COVID-19.
AstraZeneca says the study is being funded by the US Government and that participants will either receive two doses of either AZD1222 or a saline control (a placebo), four weeks apart.
The AstraZeneca shot, which has been developed by researchers from the University of Oxford, is one of the farthest along of numerous COVID-19 vaccines in development.
As well as the US trial, a final-stage test of the vaccine is underway in the United Kingdom. Preliminary results from this test could be yielded as soon as next month.
Other companies that have COVID-19 vaccines in phase 3 trials include Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc.