WASHINGTON — Drugmaker Moderna announced on Monday that it has administered the first doses of the company's "next generation" coronavirus vaccine candidate to study participants.
The company said in a statement that the Phase 1 study of the vaccine, being called mRNA-1283, has begun. The new vaccine is being developed as a "refrigerator-stable mRNA vaccine" that will make distribution easier for healthcare providers.
“We are pleased to begin this Phase 1 study of our next generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1283,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, in a statement. "We remain committed to helping address this ongoing public health emergency.”
For Moderna's first vaccine, mRNA-1273, it needs to be stored at very cold temperatures to stay potent and safe. The Associated Press said that nearly 3 billion people live where temperature-controlled storage isn't available for an immunization campaign to bring COVID-19 under control.
This new vaccine being studied by the drug maker would make it easier to securely get vaccines out to inoculation efforts across the globe.
Moderna said that the Phase 1 study of mRNA-1283 will evaluate three dose levels given to healthy adults in a single dose. Then it will be compared to the 2-dose series of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines that are currently being administered across the country.
"mRNA-1283 is intended to be evaluated in futures studies for use as a booster dose for previously vaccinated or seropositive as well as in a primary series for seronegative individuals," Moderna said about its new vaccine.
Moderna received Emergency Use Authorization for its first mRNA-1273 vaccine for COVID-19 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that first vaccine is 94.1% effective at "preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected."
Moderna has also received authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine from health agencies in Canada, Israel, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Singapore and Qatar.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has more than 29 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Monday, the U.S. had more than 534,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 119 million confirmed cases with more than 2.6 million deaths.