HOUSTON - Baylor College of Medicine is now one of about 90 sites that will help conduct Phase 3 of Moderna’s clinical vaccine trial for COVID-19.
Roughly 30,000 people across the country will be enrolled to participate, with Baylor accepting about 250-300 of those volunteers.
After a speedy three months of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trial that began in April, Baylor College of Medicine will now be one of 90 sites to conduct Phase 3.
"This is a vaccine that was originally developed in conjunction with NIH," said Dr. Robert Atmar, a Professor of Infectious Diseases at Baylor.
"Phase 3 trials are where we give the vaccine to a large group of people and try and figure out whether it works. Phase 1 is generally when it first goes into people where we're trying to make sure that it's safe. Phase 2 is we're looking at different dosages," Dr. Atmar continued.
According to Dr. Atmar, Baylor is looking for a certain amount of volunteers that are older and have underlying health conditions like diabetes, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They’re also urging those working in fields like healthcare or emergency services that may have an increased risk of contracting the virus, to apply.
"This is one of the first studies that we've done where we're trying to re-stratifying people based on either their likelihood of getting infected or their likelihood of getting more severe illness, should they become infected. The primary goal is to prevent symptomatic infection," Dr. Atmar said.
Vaccine development especially for new viruses like COVID-19 could sometimes take several years to fully develop. However, if all goes well, Dr. Atmar says Phase 3 could provide answers by as early as late October or November -- an unprecedented timeline.
"This would be pretty incredible to go from finding that virus exists to having a vaccine to prevent it essentially within a year," Dr. Atmar said.
Additionally, Dr. Atmart’s advice is that if and when a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes publicly available, folks shouldn't wait to get one.
"I, as an investigator, am prohibited from being unable to participate in the study. As soon as I have access, I plan on taking advantage of that," Dr. Atmar said.
The trial would administer roughly half of the volunteers with the actual vaccine and the other half would receive a placebo. Volunteers will communicate with researchers on a weekly basis.
For more information about the study, click here.
To volunteer to be part of the study, click here.