UAB starts clinical trials for possible COVID-19 vaccine next month

UAB will start the clinical trials next month with the AstraZeneca product
Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 5:56 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Next month UAB researchers will approach phase three for a potential COVID-19 vaccine with clinical trials. This is the final phase before being approved by the FDA.

“UAB will actually start the clinical trials next month with the AstraZeneca product in order to determine whether that vaccine works to protect against COVID-19,” Dr. Paul Goepfert, UAB’s division of infectious diseases.

The trial of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca will include 33,000 people nationwide and 500 individuals at UAB. UAB has been doing trials since the 1990′s, but this is the largest clinical trial that has been done in many years.

Dr. Goepfert said the current protocol is a two dose vaccine. A person will get one dose in the beginning of the trial then another the following month.

“It’s a two to one enrollment,” said Dr. Goepfert. “So two people get the active vaccine product versus one person who gets the placebo vaccine and we don’t know who gets what and the participants likely don’t know what they get either. And then we follow them overtime and what we hope is that at the end of trial they have protection against either infection against COVID-19 or SARS COVID-2 or protection against disease which would be COVID-19.”

The elderly and those with underlying health issues do not do well with the virus as opposed to those who are younger, like children.

“We have to test the vaccine in elderly individuals to make sure that they actually have the immune response we think they have and to see if it actually protects them,” Dr. Goepfert said. ”We need to test this vaccine in people who have high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, to be sure it works on them as well. And we also need to test it in the younger individuals.”

This trial will not expose people to COVID-19. Instead it tests people who are at risk of getting a COVID-19 infection. Only adults 18+ will be enrolled.

Dr. Nathan Erdmann, UAB’s division of infectious diseases, said with the daily increase of COVID-19 patients stress is being put on the system which has always been the concern.

“Over the last couple of weeks we constantly gone from a hand full of new admissions each day to now we’ve been consistently seeing over ten new patients coming into the hospital each day,” Dr. Edermann said.

Researchers say they are feeling optimistic of the trial being successful. The vaccine is already being funded by the federal government for development in case it is successful.

Doctors say the time frame of the trial is up to five months with hopes they will know if it works between this upcoming December and January.

Copyright 2020 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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