ROME, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in the Italian capital will start human clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the coronavirus in late August, the hospital and local authorities said on Friday.
A call for 90 volunteers was issued on the institute's website on Friday, especially for adult volunteers aged 18 to 55 or 65 to 85.
The volunteers should be healthy, registered with Italy's national health system, and have not taken part in other clinical trials in the last 12 months. They should not have contracted COVID-19 or submitted to other studies for a coronavirus vaccine.
The study was co-funded by the Lazio region, which hosts Rome, and the Ministry of Education, University and Research to the tune of five million euros (5.9 million U.S. dollars) and supported by the Ministry of Health, Lazio's chief Nicola Zingaretti said on Twitter.
Zingaretti also confirmed that the tests will start on Aug. 24, after being approved by the National Ethics Committee for the evaluation of the clinical trials of medicines for COVID-19 patients.
These trials represent the so-called 'Phase I' of vaccine research, in which a potential vaccine is administered to small groups of people. This phase is related to the safety of the drug for human beings, its dosage, as well as its effects in stimulating (or not) a reaction from the immune system.
Ansa news agency quoted Spallanzani's health director Francesco Vaia as saying they were aware of Italians' strong expectations for the researchers to find a cure for the infection, and "felt the responsibility."
Spallanzani is a public research institute and a reference hospital for infectious diseases in Italy. It was the first research center in Europe that isolated the DNA sequence of the coronavirus in February.