As the coronavirus pandemic spreads at unprecedented rates, invading the lungs of people of all ages, ethnicities and medical histories, companies are ratcheting up their efforts to fight the disease with accelerated schedules for creating new vaccines, and beginning clinical trials for potential treatments.

On Wednesday, Novavax, a Maryland-based biotech company, said it would begin human trials in Australia in mid-May for its vaccine candidate. Novavax is one of more than two dozen companies that have announced promising vaccine programs that are speeding through the early stages of testing unlike ever before.

Also on Wednesday, the stem-cell company Mesoblast said it was starting a 240-patient clinical trial, supported by the National Institutes of Health, that would test whether cells derived from bone marrow could help patients who developed a deadly immune reaction to the coronavirus….

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