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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Moderna has moved incredibly quickly to begin testing a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus in U.S. patients. The biotech company went from taking the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus to manufacturing its first batch of vials in less than a month.

Reality check: Best-case scenario, a vaccine could be ready for production by next year — but that's assuming the drug proves to be both safe and effective, which is completely unknown right now.

What they're saying: My colleague Dan Primack and I spoke with Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel to understand the timing of this very fluid situation.

  • After this phase 1 trial and a potential phase 2 trial over the summer, Bancel believes the vaccine can begin a phase 3 trial by this fall.
  • A phase 3 trial would enroll at least 3,000 people, and if data shows the vaccine is safe and effective for that sample, the FDA could approve it.
  • Anthony Fauci of the NIH has said it's a possibility there could be a novel coronavirus vaccine in 2021, "and I would agree with that," Bancel said.

Yes, but: There's no data yet. It's a scientific feat to get to this stage so quickly, but that will matter a lot less if the vaccine doesn't work well or if people suffer serious side effects.

  • "We cannot make any mistakes on safety," Bancel said.

The intrigue: Moderna, which uses a complex gene-based technology that changes how cells function, has a lot of experience researching vaccines — it has done some animal testing on a vaccine for a related coronavirus, MERS.

  • But none of Moderna's vaccines have led to federal approvals yet.

The bottom line: The global desire to find something to prevent another COVID-19 pandemic should not kick aside the need for scientific evidence.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.

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