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Merck Begins Human Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate; You Can’t Rush Science, Warns CEO

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 15 Sep 2020
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Image: Merck Begins Human Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate; You Can’t Rush Science, Warns CEO (Photo courtesy of Merck)
Image: Merck Begins Human Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate; You Can’t Rush Science, Warns CEO (Photo courtesy of Merck)
Merck (Kenilworth, NJ, USA) has begun testing its experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidate in healthy volunteers, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Merck’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, V591, uses a measles virus vector platform based on a vector originally developed by scientists at the Institut Pasteur. The company has now initiated Phase 1/2 trial of the V591 COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Belgium that will enroll 260 subjects. The trial aims to evaluate the vaccine in healthy volunteers to ensure that it is safe and has the ability to generate an immune response to SARS-CoV-2. The company told The Wall Street Journal that it has begun dosing the subjects in the study which is projected to complete in April 2022, but could finish much faster.

Meanwhile, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier once again stressed on the need for patience and adherence to scientific principles in the rush among players to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Speaking to CNBC, Frazier said, “I know there are a lot of public voices talking about when vaccines will be ready, but the fact of the matter is you can’t rush science.”

Emphasizing on the need for clinical trials to proceed and referring to the recent safety pledge undertaken jointly by vaccine makers, Frazier told CNBC, “We have to be very careful and deliberate. ... We’re pledging, as the sponsors, as the developers, that we’re actually going to be that careful. We’re going to be that deliberate coming forward with these medicines because we know we’re going into healthy people and when you’re putting these vaccines into healthy people, you have to do everything possible to ensure that these vaccines are both safe and effective.”

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