DENVER — Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and UCHealth on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus are looking to recruit 1,000 patients in the state for a study testing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The recruitment period for the Moderna vaccine will run about two months. UCHealth and the CU School of Medicine will monitor the patients for at least a year to determine the vaccine’s safety and whether they contract COVID-19.
“Our site here at University of Colorado Hospital is part of a nationwide network called the COVID Prevention Network, which is set up so that it has a cohort of sites that are available to sequentially enroll into multiple vaccine studies,” said Dr. Thomas Campbell, an infectious disease physician at the CU School of Medicine and University of Colorado Hospital. “If it works, the Moderna vaccine could be a real game-changer for the pandemic.”
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Unlike traditional vaccines which expose someone to a small amount of virus, Campbell said the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine focuses on the genetic code of the coronavirus and its spike protein.
According to Campbell, the vaccine’s purpose would be to induce an antibody response against the protein that would prevent the virus from infecting cells, This method, according to Campbell, may stimulate the body’s immune system without exposing someone to the actual virus.
The emphasis of the vaccine trial is on demonstrating its efficacy in people who are most at-risk for contracting and becoming ill from COVID-19, UCHealth said. That includes those who could be vulnerable because of their occupation, like essential workers in the healthcare and food processing industries.
UCHealth said it will also recruit patients in higher-risk groups for COVID-19 including Black, Indigenous and Hispanic patients, those over 65 years old, as well as those with certain health conditions
Participants in the randomized, observer-blind trial will either receive the vaccine or a placebo, UCHealth said.
“I'm elated by the pace of progress. It's really unheard of for any viral infection to have a vaccine progress at this rate,” Campbell said. “It’s a great testament to what can be done when people put their minds to it and work together. I'm certainly hopeful that we'll have success, but the sad reality is that most vaccine candidates don't turn out to be successful, so we have to be prepared for failures as well.”
Patients from across the state can participate in the study but they will have to travel to University of Colorado Hospital for their appointments, UCHealth said in a news release.
Potential participants for the study will be contacted through UCHealth’s My Health Connection patient portal.
UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is the only hospital in Colorado to participate in the study.
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