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Seattle research institute preparing for clinical trials of coronavirus vaccine

Kaiser Permanente's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit is expected to conduct a clinical trial of a possible coronavirus vaccine.

SEATTLE — A Seattle research institute is preparing to become the first to begin a clinical trial of a possible coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) will conduct the trials of an "investigational vaccine" over approximately 13 months, according to spokesperson Rebecca Hughes. The research unit is the only one of the nation's nine that is not located at a university medical center.  

The potential vaccine is produced by ModernaTX, Inc. The drugmaker out of Massachusetts shipped its first batch of the vaccine to researchers earlier this week.

Kaiser's VTEU will recruit 45 healthy people ages 19 to 55 to participate. The trial will not include any form of live virus.

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The trial will be one of three phases. During the first phase, researchers will test safety and antibody production - testing dose safety and whether those doses are producing an immune response. The first trial will not study how effective the vaccine is in preventing an infection.  

More than 80,000 people have been infected globally from the viral outbreak that began late last year in China. The virus has killed more than 2,700 people globally. In the U.S., 12 travel-related cases and 39 cases among persons repatriated to the United States have been recorded, according to the CDC.

In Washington state, 29 people were tested for the virus as of Feb. 27. Of those, one case was confirmed. A total of 355 people were under public health supervision.

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