NEW YORK: A series of studies in mice of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 lent some assurance that it may not increase the risk of more severe disease, and that one dose may provide protection against the novel coronavirus, according to preliminary data released.
Prior studies on a vaccine for SARS – a close cousin to the new virus that causes COVID-19 – suggests vaccines against this type of virus might have the unintended effect of causing more severe disease when the vaccinated person is later exposed to the pathogen, especially in individuals who do not produce an adequately strong immune response.
Scientists have seen this risk as a hurdle to clear before vaccines can be safely tested in thousands of healthy people.
While the data released by the U.S. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and Moderna offered some assurance, the studies do not fully answer the question.
“This is the barest beginning of preliminary information,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, an immunologist and vaccine researcher at the Mayo Clinic who has seen the paper, which has yet to undergo peer-review.
Poland said the paper was incomplete, disorganized and the numbers of animals tested were small.