The two passengers are quarantined in Nebraska

By Benjamin VanHoose
March 11, 2020 12:00 PM
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Human testing in order to find a COVID-19 vaccine is now underway.

According to Time, medical researchers at two separate organizations have begun enlisting volunteers to try potential vaccines: the University of Nebraska and the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.

Two American passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise who are quarantined in Nebraska have volunteered to be involved in the testing, the magazine reported. Called Remdesivir, the experimental antiviral drug was first designed to fight ebola but proved helpful in combating SARS and MERS in animals.

The clinical trials will be overseen by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“We thank the individuals for their participation in this trial, and we are pleased that the NIH has chosen UNMC/Nebraska Medicine as the site for this important work,” said Dr. Andre Kalil in a press release. “Our expertise in treating highly infectious disease — as well as our capacity to conduct leading-edge clinical trials — will ensure that this trial is carried out in the most effective manner possible.”

Credit: Mikhail TereshchenkoTASS via Getty

NIAID director and U.S. Coronavirus Task Force member Anthony S. Fauci stressed the importance of developing a treatment plan for the coronavirus outbreak.

“We urgently need a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. Although remdesivir has been administered to some patients with COVID-19, we do not have solid data to indicate it can improve clinical outcomes,” said Fauci. “A randomized, placebo-controlled trial is the gold standard for determining if an experimental treatment can benefit patients.”

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Carl Goldman, one of the Diamond Princess passengers who tested positive for COVID-19, shared his “life-changing experience” with PEOPLE.

“It feels like I’ve been living in a science-fiction movie,” he said. “It’s been a life-changing experience. I don’t think I’ll ever take anything for granted ever again.”

The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness began in Wuhan, China, in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.