NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -The race to produce a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is proceeding at unprecedented speed with over 100 potential vaccines in the works.

The process to develop, produce and test a vaccine normally takes years – sometimes decades – yet several companies say the can compress that time frame into just a few months. Two companies now appear to be leading the pack.

The highly touted biotech Moderna just published preliminary results of its Phase 1 safety trials in the New England Journal of Medicine, saying that their candidate vaccine induced specific anti-coronavirus antibodies with no serious safety concerns.

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Moderna also announced next week’s launch of a massive, 30,000 volunteer Phase 3 efficacy trial. The company says it will complete the trial in three months, a never-before accomplished achievement.

Dr. Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer of Moderna, said in a Cura Foundation and Jerusalem Ethics Forum webinar that a critical element of that trial is its composition.

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“That will be people who are older. It will be people who have comorbid conditions, and the trial by and large from the get-go is targeting people or is, we’re trying to get people who are at high risk for infection to begin with,” Dr. Zaks said.

Competing with Moderna for a COVID vaccine is a collaboration between British pharma giant Astrazeneca and Oxford University, which Bloomberg Business Week just dubbed the leader based on their advanced human trials and experience with other coronavirus vaccines.

Still, as Dr. Anthony Fauci has said, being first to complete human trials is not the same as having a vaccine that actually works and is safe for hundreds of millions of people. Sometimes, it is the tortoise that wins the race.

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