An experimental COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Vaccine Research Center begins its Phase 3 study on Monday.

This marks the beginning of the world's largest COVID-19 vaccine study, per the Associated Press, and sees the launch of test shots among the first batch of 30,000 expected volunteers. The study, and others like it, are designed to test both the effectiveness and safety of a potential vaccine ahead of a possible public rollout.

To do this, volunteers will not be told whether they're receiving a real short or a "dummy version," with scientists monitoring infection rates among volunteers following two doses. This monitoring will see the team keeping tabs on infections as volunteers proceed with their day-to-day lives, with particular interest in those who live in areas of the U.S. where the spread of the administration-fumbled virus has remained a consistent cause of concern.

In a press release, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel expressed optimism about this next stage of the race for a vaccine.

"We are grateful to the efforts of so many inside and outside the company to get us to this important milestone," Bancel said Monday. "We are indebted to the participants and investigators who now begin the work of the COVE (Coronavirus Efficacy) study itself. We look forward to this trial demonstrating the potential of our vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so that we can defeat this pandemic."

Studies focused on other potential vaccines from Oxford, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and Pfizer Inc. are among those scheduled for the coming months. And while this is all indeed promising news, it's key to remember the hurdles we still face, specifically with regards to encouraging anti-vaxxers to heed science.

The CDC's latest update on Sunday showed that there are now an estimated 4.2 million confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. Additionally, there are more than 145,000 confirmed deaths.

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