Federal agencies have launched a nationwide clinical trial network to test promising COVID-19 vaccines and antibodies. 

The COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network will begin recruiting thousands of trial participants immediately, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced Wednesday. 

Government scientists have zeroed in on five possible COVID-19 vaccine candidates. The first phase 3 trial will likely involve the investigational mRNA-1273 vaccine, developed by NIAID and drugmaker Moderna. NIAID expects that the network will eventually operate more than one hundred trial sites across the United States and internationally. 

“Establishing a unified clinical trial network is a key element of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, which aims to deliver substantial quantities of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

In other coronavirus vaccine news

U.S. invests $1.6 billion in Novavax’s investigational coronavirus vaccine: Drugmaker Novavax was awarded the funds to expedite development of a coronavirus vaccine, reports The New York Times. It’s the largest deal yet made in the federal government’s effort to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine research, according to the news outlet. 

Innovative vaccine development is a bright spot in pandemic, say physicians: Vaccine development is adapting in ways that could not have been predicted even a year ago, according to infectious disease specialists in a new JAMA opinion piece. The government’s interest, scientists’ innovation under pressure and the “tragic nature” of the pandemic have created “a fertile breeding ground for innovation,” they write. “Although the ultimate success of a vaccine candidate, or candidates, remains unknown, the changes in the field of vaccinology … are likely here to stay,” the authors conclude.