D.C.’s George Washington University is taking part in a nationwide third-phase trial to develop and safely test a coronavirus vaccine.
The D.C.-based school is one of about 90 sites in the U.S. to participate in the vaccine trial, developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and biotechnology company Moderna Inc.
The final trial stage, which began Monday, will include 30,000 Americans. Locally, the university will work to enroll 500 participants and is looking for volunteers.
The university’s announcement comes as scientists worldwide work to develop an effective vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
“COVID-19 is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, and it is of utmost importance to find a safe and effective vaccine,” said Dr. David Diemert, the principal investigator of the clinical trial at GW, in a statement.
“We are proud to play a role in the network of researchers working to reduce the impact of this deadly disease.”
Participants in the George Washington trial are required to be at least 18 years old, and at least 25% will be at least 65, or younger than 65 but have a comorbidity such as diabetes, heart disease or severe obesity.
The strict guidelines enable researchers to test the vaccine’s effectiveness among high-risk populations.
Each participant will get two injections given one month apart. Half will receive a saline placebo, and enrollees will have symptoms and side effects monitored.
The university’s researchers will regularly check in with participants for up to two years after the second dose is given.
The Moderna Inc. candidate is what scientists call an mRNA vaccine.
“The vaccine uses a chemical messenger called ribonucleic acid or RNA that instructs the body’s cells to create a protein that mimics one found on the outer surface of the virus that causes COVID-19,” according to the release.
Every month through the fall, the government-funded COVID-19 Prevention Network will roll out a new study of a leading vaccine candidate, each with 30,000 volunteers, The Associated Press reported.
Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health’s infectious-diseases chief, said conclusive results on vaccines may not be available until the end of the year.
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