The US government plans to fund and conduct "decisive studies" of three experimental coronavirus vaccines starting this summer, as reported in The Wall Street Journal.
John Mascola, director of the vaccine research center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Moderna's mRNA vaccine is set to be first, starting in July, followed in August by one co-developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and in September by Johnson & Johnson's vaccine candidate.
Each study is expected to include roughly 30,000 people, some receiving the experimental vaccines and others placebo, although the final number of participants could vary, Mascola said.
A Moderna spokesman confirmed the plan for the NIH-funded trial of its vaccine. An AstraZeneca spokeswoman said the company's recent contract with a US health agency would support a large study, but could not confirm the start date, while a representative for Johnson & Johnson declined to comment.
The government may also plan similarly large trials for additional coronavirus vaccines in development, such as those being developed by Sanofi and Merck & Co. Larry Corey, member of a committee advising the NIH on the design of coronavirus-vaccine trials, said testing plans for other vaccines have not been completed.
Separately, Pfizer, which with partner BioNTech has one of the more advanced vaccine candidates, could begin its Phase III trial as early as July, said a person familiar with the matter. Pfizer is not participating in the NIH testing program.
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