Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

NIH-part­nered Mod­er­na ships off its PhI-ready coro­n­avirus vac­cine can­di­date to a sea of un­cer­tain­ty

Off it goes.

Mod­er­na has shipped the first batch of its mR­NA vac­cine against SARS-CoV-2 from its man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Nor­wood, Mass­a­chu­setts, to the Na­tion­al In­sti­tute of Al­ler­gy and In­fec­tious Dis­eases in Bethes­da, Mary­land, for a pi­o­neer­ing Phase I study.

It’s a hec­tic race against time. In the 42 days since Mod­er­na se­lect­ed the se­quence they would use to de­vel­op their vac­cine — a record time, no less — the num­ber of con­firmed cas­es around the world has surged as­tro­nom­i­cal­ly from a few dozen to over 80,000, per WHO and Johns Hop­kins es­ti­mates.

The can­di­date that they came up with, mR­NA-1273, en­codes for a pre­fu­sion sta­bi­lized form of the spike pro­tein, which gives the virus its crown shape and plays a key role in trans­mis­sion. The Coali­tion for Epi­dem­ic Pre­pared­ness In­no­va­tions, the Oslo-based group bet­ter known as CEPI, fund­ed the man­u­fac­ture of this batch.

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