Army begins testing possible coronavirus vaccines on primates at Fort Detrick

Army begins testing possible coronavirus vaccines on primates at Fort Detrick
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U.S. Army researchers at Fort Detrick in Maryland have begun testing potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus on animals, officials said.

The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick is testing on “non-human primates,” Jonathan Hoffman, the assistant to the secretary of Defense for public affairs, told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday, according to The Baltimore Sun.

“I think it’s important for everyone to keep in mind that this is a process that is going as quickly as it can,” added Paul Friedrichs, an Air Force brigadier general who serves as Joint Staff surgeon. “We’re balancing, again, that risk of how do we make sure any vaccine candidates are safe?”

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Friedrichs said human trials on a small group of people would begin if the animal trials were successful, the Sun noted.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters at the Pentagon last month that military research labs were "working feverishly around the horn here to try to come up with a vaccine."

U.S. health officials have said it could take as long as 18 months to develop and distribute an effective COVID-19 vaccine.  

Almost 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported around the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, leading to more than 80,000 deaths.