1,000 UCHealth patients to be recruited for COVID-19 vaccine trial

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 1:42 PM MDT
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AURORA, Colo. (KKTV) - Researchers in Colorado are recruiting 1,000 UCHealth patients for an upcoming COVID-19 vaccine trial.

UCHealth announced Thursday that researchers at University of Colorado School of Medicine and UCHealth on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus would be conducting the trial over the next year as the world races to find a vaccine for the coronavirus.

“Our site here at University of Colorado Hospital is part of a nationwide network called the COVID Prevention Network,” said Dr. Tom Campbell, an infectious disease physician at UC-Health. “The COVID Prevention Network is set up so it has a cohort of sites that are available to sequentially enroll into multiple vaccine studies, and so we do hope to have future vaccine studies . ... Of course, we need to complete the one that’s on our plate first.”

Campbell described the potential vaccine in Thursday’s announcement.

“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. The coronavirus gets its name from the crown of spikes seen through an electron microscope. The spike proteins are crucial for replication of the virus, as they attach to cells in the human body and cause infection. 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.”

Calling the vaccine candidate “promising,” UCHealth said Thursday that they were cautiously optimistic moving forward.

“I’m elated by the pace of progress. It’s really unheard of for any viral infection to have a vaccine progress at this rate. ... It’s just a really great testament to what can be done when people put their minds to it and work together,” Campbell said, while cautioning that most vaccine candidates do fail.

“Where this will take us from here and what our chances of success are, I’m certainly hopeful we’ll have success, but … the sad reality is is that most vaccine candidates don’t turn out to be successful, so we have to be prepared for failures, as well.”

The health system says they will be recruiting patients over the next two months and monitoring those chosen over the next year to determine the vaccine’s safety and whether they contract COVID-19. They are inviting patients from across the state to participate, not just the Denver metro.

“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 groups including Black, Indigenous and Hispanic patients as well as those with certain health conditions, 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,” UCHealth said in the statement.

UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is the only Colorado hospital involved in the study.

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