Germany on Wednesday granted its first clinical trial of a novel coronavirus vaccine, as the country’s 16 states embraced face masks as part of a gradual plan to win back some degree of normality.
The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), a federal institute for vaccines and biomedicines, announced that it gave the green light to a potential vaccine being developed by the Mainz-based BioNTech.
The vaccine will be tested on 200 healthy volunteers.
“Trials of vaccine candidates in humans are an important milestone on the road to safe and efficacious vaccines against Covid-19 for the population in Germany and internationally,’’ the PEI said in a statement.
BioNTech is cooperating in the development of the vaccine with U.S. pharmaceuticals company Pfizer.
In a two-part clinical study, the developers are aiming to assess the efficacy and the safety of the substance, which uses gene technology matched with the pathogen and encourages the production of proteins that build up the body’s defence against it.
Until now, BioNTech has mainly worked in the field of cancer immunotherapy.
According to PEI president Klaus Cichutek, a total of four clinical trials for potential vaccines are expected to begin in Germany this year.
He has warned that it is unlikely that an approved vaccine for the general public will be available in 2020.
In the meantime, the nation is trying to gradually ease economically crippling coronavirus measures while urging extra precaution to keep an exponential spread of the potentially deadly virus at bay.
This plan includes the wearing of face masks in public, with Bremen becoming the last state to follow suit with legislation making this mandatory.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed that the progress in fighting the country’s outbreak is `fragile.’
According to the latest data from the Robert Koch Institute, the German government’s agency for disease control, each person in the country infected with the novel coronavirus passes it on to 0.9 persons on average.
Keeping the so-called reproduction number below 1 is key in preventing exponential spread. It has ticked up slightly after standing at 0.7 earlier in the week.
According to a dpa tally, more than 144,800 coronavirus cases have been registered nationwide since the start of the pandemic.
At least 4,745 people have died from the Covid-19 respiratory illness caused by the virus.