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A potential coronavirus vaccine funded by Bill Gates is set to begin testing in people, with the first patient expected to get it today

Business Insider logo Business Insider 4/6/2020 Andrew Dunn
a hand holding a toothbrush © Reuters
  • Healthy volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri, will begin to test an experimental coronavirus vaccine starting this week.
  • The small Pennsylvania-based biotech Inovio Pharmaceuticals received regulatory clearance to begin testing. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with other nonprofits, have poured funding into Inovio's vaccine project.
  • The biotech expects to have early safety data by late summer and is aiming to produce 1 million doses by the end of 2020.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A small Pennsylvania biotech company is planning to start injecting healthy volunteers with a potential coronavirus vaccine, after receiving regulatory clearance to start clinical testing.

Researchers plan to dose the first person Monday. The experimental vaccine was developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, with the effort receiving funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. 

Inovio's candidate, called INO-4800, is the second potential coronavirus vaccine to start human trials in the US. The Massachusetts biotech Moderna started dosing in mid-March for its own safety trial. 

Anthony Fauci, the longtime leader of the National Institutes of Health's infectious disease unit, has repeatedly stated it will take at least a year to know if any vaccine is safe and effective against the virus.

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For the study of Inovio's vaccine, the company is enrolling 40 healthy adult participants in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school and in Kansas City, Missouri, at the Center for Pharmaceutical Research.

Each volunteer will receive two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart. Inovio expects quick enrollment in the study and safety results by late summer. If those results are positive, the company will quickly start another study focused on assessing the vaccine's efficacy against the virus. 

Given unprecedented global demand, any vaccine that proves to be safe and effective will face a major challenge in manufacturing. 

Inovio stated it is now scaling up its production capabilities and is aiming to have 1 million doses available by the end of 2020. These doses could be used in additional clinical trials or emergency use, if required.

Gallery: Everyday objects to be wary of touching as the coronavirus spreads (Business Insider)

Read more: There are more than 40 potential coronavirus vaccines in the works. Here are the top efforts to watch, including the 8 vaccines set to be tested in people this year.

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