COVID-19 vaccine trial to launch in Colorado

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Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and UCHealth, CU Anschutz Medical Campus will recruit qualified patients throughout Colorado for a study testing a promising COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The recruitment period will run about two months at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, the only hospital in Colorado participating in the study.

UCHealth and the CU School of Medicine will recruit 1,000 patients for the trial, and participants will
be monitored for at least a year to determine the vaccine’s safety and whether they contract COVID-19. All appointments will take place at University of Colorado Hospital.

Unlike traditional vaccines which expose someone to a small amount of virus, the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine focuses on the genetic code of the coronavirus and its spike protein, Campbell said. The vaccine’s purpose would be to induce an antibody response against the protein that would prevent the virus from infecting cells. This method may stimulate the body’s immune system without exposing someone to the actual virus.

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on global health. But it has also sparked a global collaboration of scientists and researchers unlike anything we’ve seen before,” said Donald M. Elliman Jr., chancellor of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “As a top academic medical campus, we are uniquely positioned to take part in these potentially groundbreaking clinical trials as we all work to bring an end to COVID-19.”

The emphasis of this vaccine trial is on demonstrating its efficacy in people who are most at-risk for contracting and becoming ill from COVID-19. This includes those who could be vulnerable because of their occupation, such as employees of crowded facilities, health care workers who treat patients with COVID-19, first responders, and those who work in food processing facilities.

UCHealth will also recruit individuals in higher-risk ethnnic groups and those with certain health risks, including those over 65 years old and people suffering from diabetes, obesity, heart disease, lung disease, or chronic kidney disease. Participants in the randomized, observer-blind trial will either receive the vaccine or a placebo.

Clinical trials typically take several years and proceed in sequential order, but the mRNA-1273 trial is proceeding far more rapidly as researchers around the world race to develop a successful vaccine. However, physicians
warn that setbacks are possible.

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