Moderna Therapeutics, a biotech company based in Cambridge, Mass., has shipped the first batches of its COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna Therapeutics’ co-founder and director is American entrepreneur of Armenian descent Noubar Afeyan.
The vaccine was created just 42 days after the genetic sequence of the COVID-19 virus, called SARS-CoV-2, was released by Chinese researchers in mid-January.
The first vials were sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, which will ready the vaccine for human testing as early as April.
NIH scientists also began testing an antiviral drug called remdesivir that had been developed for Ebola, on a patient infected with SARS-CoV-2. The trial is the first to test a drug for treating COVID-19, and will be led by a team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
The first patient to volunteer for the ground-breaking study is a passenger who was brought back to the US after testing positive for the disease aboard the Diamond Princess. Others diagnosed with COVID-19 who have been hospitalized will also be part of the study.
Noubar Afeyan, along with businessmen and philanthropists Ruben Vardanyan and Vartan Gregorian, founded the 100 LIVES initiative in 2015.