The first-ever clinical trial in a quest for a coronavirus vaccine began Monday as the first injections were administered at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.
Four volunteer participants were given injections of a vaccine created by Moderna Inc. in collaboration with the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) and the National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Phase 1 of the study is intended to test the safety of three dose levels of the new vaccine -- mRNA-1273 -- named after the genetic material that makes up the injections and which researchers say can produce a vaccine very quickly.
"This study is the first step in the clinical development of an mRNA vaccine" against coronavirus, said Dr. Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna, in a statement.
The trial will include 45 healthy adults ages 18 to 55. Each participant will receive two shots, 28 days apart. Three different doses will be tested on 15 people each and the participants will be studied to determine whether the vaccine is safe.
In addition, all of the participants will be checked for side effects and have their blood tested to determine whether the vaccine is revving up their immune systems to make antibodies that can stop the virus from replicating and prevent the illness it causes.
They will each be followed for 12 months after their second dose.
Four more participants will also be injected on Tuesday.
Modena said in a press release on Monday that they are "actively preparing" for Phase 2 of testing, which would test for the effectiveness of the drug.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.