UAB: Moderna vaccine study is hopeful, study based on 8 patients’ data

Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., an infectious diseases physician at UAB, updates steps for a COVID-19 vaccine (Source: WBRC)
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -- UAB infectious diseases physician Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., said she is hopeful about a small study recently completed on a vaccine for COVID-19.

Dr. Marrazzo, M.D., said eight volunteers were enrolled in the Moderna vaccine study. It’s an MRNA vaccine, meaning the volunteers were injected with genetic material from the coronavirus.

The good news is all eight people made antibodies in six weeks and Marrazzo said those antibodies did a good job of essentially killing the virus.

Dr. Marrazzo said she and researchers are hopeful, but it’s very early.

The next phase in the study starts in July and will involve a lot more people, including older people.

Doctors say finding a vaccine is a laborious process, especially when you’re dealing with a new virus.

Phase three will be a large scale study to see if the vaccine will prevent infections in the real world. Marrazzo said because of the shortened time to develop a vaccine for this virus the next study could combine phase two and phase three.

“We don’t have the luxury of time here in this case,” Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., said.

What about remdesivir?

Dr. Marrazzo said remdesivir data are very encouraging. Remdesivir is a drug that has shown some promise for treatment in sick COVID-19 patients.

The studies included patients either getting remdesivir or a placebo. The people who got remdesivir improved four days faster. There was also a trend towards improved survival in patients.

Dr. Marrazzo said there is a lot of confidence the drug is good, but not perfect against the virus.

The next phase in the study will test remdesivir along with another drug. With the confidence, the drug is good enough to use on its own. maybe the combo will work even better.

Dr. Marrazzo said the challenge is getting enough remdesivir to go around and treat those in need. Doctors are now deciding who gets the drug and how best to allocate the precious small amounts.

The Alabama Department of Health has announced the state recently got an allotment of the drug and will distribute it to hospitalized patients.

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