• The Star Staff

Guaranteed ingredient in any Coronavirus vaccine? Thousands of volunteers

By Heather Murphy

Not long after researchers completed their work with mice, guinea pigs, ferrets and monkeys, Human Subject 8, an art director for a software company in Missouri, received an injection. Four days later, her sister, a schoolteacher, became Subject 14.

Together, the sisters make up about 5% of the first ever clinical trial of a DNA vaccine for the novel coronavirus. How they respond to it will help determine the future of the vaccine. If it proves safe in this trial and effective in future trials, it could become not only one of the first coronavirus vaccines but also the first DNA vaccine ever approved for commercial use against a human disease.

Hundreds of experimental vaccines for the new coronavirus are being developed across the world. The vaccines’ ability to advance will depend not only on science and funding but also on the willingness of tens of thousands of healthy people to have an unproven solution injected into their bodies. In many of these studies, the vaccine recipe isn’t the only thing on trial. Genebased vaccines — and at least 20 coronavirus vaccines in development fall into this category — have yet to make it to market. Should one end up in doctors’ offices amid the rush to shield billions from COVID-19, it would represent a new chapter for vaccine development.

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