Human trials for another possible coronavirus vaccine have begun in the US, this time from Big Pharma giant Pfizer, reports Reuters. The company is partnering with a German firm, BioNTech, and if all goes well, the vaccine could be available for high-risk people in September, per the New York Times. As is now normal with COVID-19, researchers are speeding up the usual process, in this case by testing four versions of the vaccine at the same time, explains the Washington Post. Trials are taking place in Germany, too. This is the eighth potential vaccine to enter human trials, including another in the US that began in Seattle in March. Another of the eight, from researchers at Oxford University in the UK, also hopes to have shots available in the fall.
"The pandemic came upon us, fast and furious, and we didn’t have a lot of time to do years of research," says Pfizer exec Kathrin Jansen. "Because of the urgency and the crisis, we said, 'What can we do to shorten the development time for a vaccine?'" The Pfizer contender uses genetic material called messenger RNA to "trick" a person's immune system into rendering the coronavirus harmless, per the Post. In the US, the first stage will involve 360 healthy volunteers, but the trials will eventually have 8,000 participants at four locations: The Grossman School of Medicine in New York, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)