NEW YORK - Melissa Honkanen became one of the first New Yorkers to receive a dose of an experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday in a clinical trial taking place at NYU Langone Health’s Vaccine Center.
“I felt like this is a great opportunity to be part of a solution and help people have a little bit of hope that there might a vaccine that can help to prevent this,” Honkanen said.
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She learned about the trial from her husband who is a doctor at NYU.
NYU’s Vaccine Center and the University of Maryland are the first sites to enroll patients in the U.S. A similar human trial got underway last week in Germany.
Researchers are testing whether four types of so-called “messenger RNA” vaccines can prevent COVID19, the sometimes fatal disease caused by the coronavirus. The hope is the RNA triggers the body to produce proteins associated with the coronavirus.
“And in this case, it makes the spike protein, that large red globular protein on all those cartoons of the virus that everyone is seeing. And that’s a critical protein that when made in the body, will induce an immune response,” explained Mulligan.
Researchers hope the induced immune response will protect someone who is later exposed to the real virus.
“Equally important is the fact that we’re here in New York City. This has been the epicenter of the pandemic, certainly in the U.S.” said Mulligan.
The vaccines are developed by Pfizer and Biopharmaceutical New Technologies. If the vaccines are successful and receive regulatory approval, Pfizer says it can produce millions of doses by the end of the year.
Two days after her inoculation, Honkanen says so far she feels good.
“It’s global and I’m just one person and I’m a tiny minute little fraction in this universe. I feel like if I can do my small part, it could help the greater good,” she said.
NYU continues to recruit healthy candidates to participate in the trial. If someone is between the ages of 18 and 55, and has not been diagnosed with COVID19, they might qualify. For more information, contact the NYU Langone Vaccine Center Clinic at 646-501-9854 or COVID_Vaccine_Study@NYULangone.org.