AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – UCHealth and the CU School of Medicine are looking to recruit 1,000 people in Colorado for a study testing a promising COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine does not expose participants to the virus. Participants will be monitored for at least a year to determine the vaccine's safety and whether they contract COVID-19.
"It's really remarkable that that we're talking about starting a very large study just six months after this virus was first described," explained Dr. Thomas Campbell, an infectious disease physician at the CU School of Medicine and University of Colorado Hospital.
As coronavirus cases continue to climb, the hospital is hosting a trial, testing a potential vaccine designed by Moderna.
"The vaccine is intended to prevent COVID-19," Campbell said. "So the trial will evaluate how well the vaccine does that and it will also evaluate whether or not the vaccine is safe for people to get."
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. Dr. Campbell told CBS4's Makenzie O'Keefe that is the area where the virus attached to cells and infects the body.
"The idea is that if one has antibodies against that protein, and those antibodies could prevent the virus from infecting cells and thereby prevent COVID-19," Campbell explained.
UCHealth is looking for participants who work in a crowded or high risk job like meat plant workers or first responders. They also are looking for people who are high risk of catching the virus.
"It's very important to do a large research study like this with a very diverse group of people enrolled in the study," he said.
Dr. Campbell said the patients will be monitored by the hospital for up to two years after receiving the vaccine. People throughout Colorado are invited to participate, but they will have to travel to University of Colorado Hospital on CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The other location for the trial is at the Lynn Health Science Institute of Colorado Springs.
Potential participants will be contacted through UCHealth's My Health Connection patient portal and invited to participate if they meet the criteria for the trial.
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