Four young and healthy volunteer patients at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle were given a jab to protect against coronavirus, as part of a new clinical trial.

The four participants are part of a group of 45 young volunteers who, over the next six weeks, will be receiving different doses of the shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna.

Jennifer Haller, 43, of Seattle, the first to receive the shot said:  “We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something.” 

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) allowed the new vaccine to be fast-tracked into clinical trials without thorough testing in animal models which is the usual step taken before testing on humans. However, the volunteers cannot contract the infection as the jabs do not contain the virus. The trial is designed to find out if the vaccines show any side effects.

There are several research groups around the world racing to be the first to create a vaccine.

Read: A vaccine for Coronavirus could be available soon say scientists in Israel

Researchers at Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said they had taken an important step in understanding the virus. By examining the blood results from an unidentified woman in her 40s, they discovered that people’s immune systems respond to coronavirus in the same way it typically fights flu.

Although small breakthroughs have started to appear, public health officials say it will take between a year and 18 months to know if the vaccine will work. The reason it will take so long is that it takes additional studies of thousands of people to tell if a vaccine truly protects and does no harm.

Note: The coronavirus has infected more than 168,000 people worldwide and killed at least 6,611, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).