A New Entry in the Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine: Hope

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Scientists are increasingly optimistic that a vaccine can be produced in record time.

In a medical research project nearly unrivaled in its ambition and scope, volunteers worldwide are rolling up their sleeves to receive experimental vaccines against the coronavirus — only months after the virus was identified.

Companies like Inovio and Pfizer have begun early tests of candidates in people to determine whether their vaccines are safe. Researchers at the University of Oxford in England are testing vaccines in human subjects, too, and say they could have one ready for emergency use as soon as September.

Moderna on Monday announced encouraging results of a safety trial of its vaccine in eight volunteers. There were no published data, but the news alone kindled hopes and sent the company’s stock soaring.

Animal studies have raised expectations, too. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on Wednesday published research showing that a prototype vaccine effectively protected monkeys from infection with the virus.

The findings will pave the way to development of a human vaccine, said the investigators. They have already partnered with Janssen, a division of Johnson & Johnson.

In labs around the world, there is now cautious optimism that a coronavirus vaccine, and perhaps more than one, will be ready sometime next year.