Coronavirus: U.S. Army to Begin Vaccine Human Trials in Two Months; Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19 Identified

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As the world continues to struggle against the novel coronavirus pandemic, various companies and countries, including the United States and the U.S. Army, are continuing their search for a COVID-19 vaccine, with potential candidates ready for human clinical trials.

In a report by Newsweek, the U.S. Army has announced Thursday, June 11, that their newly developed vaccine is expected to begin human trials within the next two months.

Experts from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) have identified a probable vaccine against the coronavirus this month, and they are already working on having it tested by July within the Washington, D.C. area.

The COVID-19 vaccine, known as Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN), works by moving parts of the virus that it uses to attach itself to a healthy cell.

By September, the military researchers are expected to start human clinical trials where doses will be injected into volunteers to see how their bodies react to it.

“Key results will be obtained in less than two months, but the trial will extend beyond that to look at long-term immune responses,” said Samir Deshpande, the WRAIR spokesperson.

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If the vaccine gives promising results based on the initial tests, the U.S. Army will then prepare for a larger scale trial as soon as possible.

The SpFN coronavirus vaccine will be given in conjunction with the Army Liposome Formulation, a proprietary immune system enhancer that has built “strong immune responses” during the researchers’ preliminary investigation.

Last month, U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced Operation Warp Seed that is created to speed up the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

In his announcement, the POTUS confirmed that the federal government would invest in the manufacturing of all top vaccine candidates before they are approved to provide doses in the event of successful trials readily.

In related news, South Korean doctors have found underlying health conditions that increase the risk of getting severe COVID-19.

In an interview with Reuters, internal medicine Professor Ahn June-hong from Yeungnam University Medical Center and colleagues have found out that people with high body temperature, diabetes, pre-existing cardiac injury, and low oxygen saturation are more likely to become critically ill from the viral infection.

The results of their research are published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science.

In order to acquire the results, the doctors monitored 110 coronavirus patients from a local hospital in Daegu, which is deemed as the epicenter of South Korea’s COVID-19 outbreak.

The researchers observed the patients from February 19 to April 15 and found that 23 of them have developed a severe case of COVID-19.

Professor Ahn said that the critically ill coronavirus patients have at least three of the four risk factors indicated in their paper, especially as they are significantly older and likely to have lower peripheral oxygen saturation as well as diabetes.

Their study could help experts around the globe identify patients who are at most risk of getting critically ill early on and provide them with suitable treatment and care.

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