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An American coronavirus vaccine trial has delivered promising signs that researchers are on the cusp of finding a proper defence against the pandemic.
While biotech company Moderna's study was small (only eight people were included in the human trial), the results have left scientists cautiously optimistic.
The company says the vaccine was found to be safe and also provoked the human body to create 'neutralising antibodies', which mimicked the same antibodies produced by people who had been infected with coronavirus and survived.
These antibodies were consistent in all eight test patients and directly showed that an 'immune response' was generated by the vaccine. It also helped stop Covid-19 from replicating and harming the host.
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.
"We've demonstrated that these antibodies, this immune response, can actually block the virus. I think this is a very important first step in our journey towards having a vaccine."
The research was conducted in partnership with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
NIH vaccine specialist Dr. Paul Offit, who is helping establish a framework for vaccine studies in the US, says it's a brilliant first step to overcoming the pandemic.
"It shows that not only did the antibody bind to the virus, but it prevented the virus from infecting the cells," he said.
Researchers directly involved admit that while the results are very exciting, there's not enough information to determine whether it will be the vital tool to combat the pandemic. The study hasn't yet been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.
The vaccine will now go to Phase Two, which will involve a much larger test group (as many as 600 people).
If that's successful, then Phase Three will be granted and the vaccine can be tested on thousands of people.
Despite successfully completing the first important hurdle, Moderna isn't expected to be able to get it out to the public until early next year.
According to the World Health Organisation, Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of eight developers worldwide doing human clinical trials with a vaccine.
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