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VERIFY: Do participants know if they received a placebo during COVID vaccine trials?

Our Verify team talked to a doctor that leads the team overseeing the Moderna vaccine trial in Colorado to get the answer.

DENVER — The state's first vaccines were administered to frontline health-care workers Monday afternoon after Colorado received its first shipment of Pfizer's vaccine Monday morning.

“This is just the start of the distribution,” Gov. Jared Polis said. “It’ll help protect some of our most vulnerable, the tireless COVID workers who work in COVID wards every day, and then more will become available for the general population to help end the pandemic."

THE QUESTION 

Has everyone in the U.S. who participated in vaccine trials, specifically the Pfizer and Moderna trials, been told whether they received the vaccine or the placebo? Is there a protocol for vaccine trials about telling volunteers?

THE ANSWER 

Yes. According to Dr. Thomas Campbell, Chief Clinical Research Officer at UCHealth and Associate Dean for clinical research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said Moderna has developed a plan to offer the vaccine to participants who received placebo.

Campbell said that UCHealth has sent out letters to the volunteers, telling them which they received and outlining the plan.

WHAT WE FOUND

Campbell leads the team overseeing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial in Colorado at UCHealth.

“We’re one of 99 sites across the United States [for the Moderna vaccine trial] that helped enroll 30,000 plus patients across the United States,” Campbell said. “So, our work here was to identify volunteers, enter them in the trial, administer the vaccine, or the placebo, and then follow the participants for any side effects and for symptomatic COVID illness.”

He said that the plan that Moderna has come up with is waiting for review and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website, vaccine trial participants who received the placebo are in phase 2 of the vaccine distribution plan.

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