More volunteers needed in COVID-19 vaccine research trials


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN/WROC) – This month the Food and Drug Administration will review two COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. If approved, they could be distributed by the end of 2020, with current estimates of up to 20 million doses of each vaccine available. Each product requires two doses.

As a result, the shots will be rationed in the early stages, with healthcare workers potentially part of the first wave. The U.S. government’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to vote on a proposal that would give priority to health care workers and nursing home patients on Tuesday.

Researchers will likely keep working on coronavirus vaccines for years to come.

Last month, Dr. Spyros Kalams principal investigator for the Moderna Phase 3 trial at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, spoke with News 2 about why the ongoing trials are important. “All of the vaccine manufacturers realize that everybody knows that there are vaccines that look effective, why should I go into another clinical trial? And number one, we’re trying to figure out which one is best. Which one might be better for certain groups of people.”

For more information on volunteering for a COVID-19 clinical trial, click here.

Dr. Michael Keefer is an infectious disease researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York. He helped in the Pfizer trial that has shown to be over 90% effective. Dr. Keefer says we are still far away from population-wide vaccinations and more vaccines need testing, “There’s still two additional vaccines, their studies haven’t even started yet in these efficacy trials.” 

The original trials for Keefer’s team were focused on those at a high risk for exposure, but now that the virus is everywhere, everyone is a potential volunteer for the vaccine.

“It’s going to take 6-12 months to get these vaccines out broadly. Certainly, healthcare workers, first responders, probably nursing home residents are going to be in the first wave.” Keefer told News 2’s sister station, WROC.

He added those that get a placebo in the trial would be next in line.

Causewave’s Todd Butler has been working with URMC, Rochester Regional Health, Monroe County Medical Society, and others to help spread the word about these vaccine trials.

“This vaccine trial effort is actually something that you can do, any person can do, to make a difference in getting us back to where we were before,” said Butler.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH reports each day. )

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