• A volunteer on Monday received an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the first clinical trial with people.
  • The potential vaccine — developed by Moderna, a small Massachusetts biotech company — has had a speedy development: Moderna went from sequencing the virus' genetic information to shipping a vaccine candidate to US health officials in 42 days.
  • The trial will focus on determining the vaccine's safety by giving it to 45 healthy volunteers in the Seattle area.
  • The company's CEO, Stephane Bancel, told Business Insider the quickness came from using its novel vaccine technology that requires only the virus' genetic code instead of the virus itself.
  • Moderna's vaccine still has a long way to go. US health officials have said it will take at least a year to 18 months to determine whether it's safe and effective.
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The first person in the world was given a dose of a potential coronavirus vaccine on Monday.

The start of a clinical trial marks historically fast progress in developing a vaccine in the face of a pandemic.  The virus was genetically sequenced only about two months ago.

But the experimental vaccine has a long way to go to reach a broader population. The study that just started is primarily focused on making sure the vaccine is safe in humans. If it is, future trials will test larger groups of people to determine whether it can actually prevent infection.

Clinical testing will take at least a year to 18 months to determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective, Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institutes of Health's infectious-disease unit, has repeatedly said.

If it were to be approved, it would be the first vaccine developed with a novel technology platform using messenger RNA. The technology was a critical component of the ability of the vaccine's developer, a small Massachusetts company called Moderna, to move so quickly.

Instead of needing copies of the virus itself, the biotech needed only the genetic information of the coronavirus, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told Business Insider. It took 42 days for Moderna to move from sequencing the virus to shipping a vaccine candidate to NIH officials.

This first trial is based at Kaiser Permanente Washington's research clinic in Seattle and plans to enroll 45 healthy volunteers who are 18 to 55 years old. Recruiting has been underway, with researchers offering up to $1,100 to participants.