By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle on Monday kicked off a Phase I clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine designed to protect against COVID-19.

Called mRNA-1273, researchers plan to test different doses to track the vaccine’s safety and its potential to induce an immune response in participants. This will be the first in what researchers say will be several steps in the trial process.

Backed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, investigators plan to enroll 45 healthy adults age 18-55 years over a six-week period. Researchers administered the vaccine for the first time on Monday to one patient.

“Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority,” NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said in a statement. “This Phase I study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”

Perhaps Washington state is an appropriate place to begin testing a COVID-19 vaccine. The state has been hit particularly hard during this crisis. As of March 13, the CDC says more than 450 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Washington state, a significant proportion of the more than 1,600 cases reported nationwide so far. (Updated March 16, 2020, 5:09 p.m.: This afternoon, the CDC released the revised total number of U.S. COVID-19 cases to 3,487.)

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