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Scientist Xinhua Yan works in the lab at Moderna in Cambridge, Mass. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Moderna's experimental COVID-19 vaccine has induced a "robust" immune response and protection from the virus in the noses and lungs of monkeys, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine Tuesday.

Why it matters: The National Institutes for Health, which co-developed the vaccine, noted in a statement Tuesday, "This is the first time an experimental COVID-19 vaccine tested in nonhuman primates has been shown to produce such rapid viral control in the upper airway."

  • Moderna president Stephen Hoge said in a statement the preclinical study shows that the vaccine candidate, code-named mRNA-1273, protected against a high dose SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in non-human primates.
  • It also "prevented pulmonary disease in all animals, further supporting the clinical advancement of mRNA-1273," Hoge added.

What they did: For the study, three groups of eight rhesus macaques received two injections of 10 or 100 micrograms of mRNA-1273 or a placebo.

  • Both doses were found to be effective in safeguarding against viral replication in the monkeys' lungs and lung inflammation. The higher dose produced the same results in the monkeys' noses.

The bottom line: While these results are promising, the real test will be the outcome of human trials, now in the late stages, which involve some 30,000 volunteers.

  • NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Monday, "The safety data thus far looks good. But now, it's crunch time. We're trying to figure out if it actually works."

Go deeper

Nov 5, 2020 - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 new COVID-19 cases for first time

Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. reported 103,087 new daily coronavirus infections on Wednesday, setting a single-day record for cases, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Why it matters: This is the first time the U.S. has reported over 100,000 new cases in a single day — a reminder of the high stakes of the election as votes continue to be tabulated.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 4, 2020 - World

Italy imposes regional lockdown as coronavirus cases spike

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (c) made the call. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Much of Italy will be placed under a strict lockdown as of Friday in the most drastic steps the country has taken to fight the coronavirus since it led the world into lockdown nearly eight months ago.

The big picture: Italy managed to keep the spread of the virus largely under control for months after a brutal first wave. But like much of Europe, it's currently recording unprecedented daily case counts and scrambling to avoid a return to overcrowded hospitals and climbing death tolls in the coming weeks.