CLEVELAND — University Hospitals (UH) Cleveland Medical Center is one of approximately 80 clinical investigation sites selected in the United States.
“This is the way we are going to end the pandemic, really, with a vaccine. We want to go back to normal life. So, like the AstraZeneca one, they're in phase three. It's the last phase before FDA approval. So, that's why we're, we're really excited about it. It's like, we feel we're getting there, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr. Grace McComsey, vice president of research at UH and a professor at Case Western Reserve University's (CWRU) School of Medicine.
McComsey said so far, UH is a clinical trial site for two COVID-19 vaccine candidates — Pfizer’s, and now AstraZeneca’s.
“The two vaccines work a little bit differently. However they achieve the same aim, which is to boost people's immune systems. And we're excited about this new AstraZeneca vaccine because prior studies, what we call phase two studies have shown that already to be really helpful in boosting up antibody levels, but also T-cell immunity, which has a more lasting immunity than just the antibody levels,” said McComsey.
Although these vaccines are being developed on an accelerated timeline, the chair of University Hospitals' Department of Medicine, Dr. Robert Salata, said the vaccines are being developed with much care and thoughtfulness.
“I have to say that there has been such scrutiny and carefulness in conducting these vaccines. I've never seen anything like this before. And to that end, I don't think we've cut any corners, you know, some upset with the term Operation Warp Speed. That doesn't mean we're not being careful about this. In fact, the CEO of Pfizer recently said we should be moving at the speed of science, not warp speed. So, I think that's a more appropriate term in terms of how this is working,” said Salata.
The study seeks to enroll non-pregnant adults, over 18 years old and collectively enroll up to 30,000 participants. It will be conducted at the UH Cleveland Medical Center, in collaboration with CWRU's School of Medicine. McComsey urged anyone interested to volunteer for the study.
“So, when we say vaccine, I don't want just the vaccine for 18, 20, 30 year old. I want it to be effective across racial ethnicities, across, you know, sexes. I mean, that's why it is important to get a diverse population in studies. So, I want to encourage you, everybody, whether they have an interest in the vaccine studies to prevent COVID, or if they have COVID or know somebody who has COVID interested in studies to please contact us,” said McComsey.
If the trials go well, Salata explained the first to receive the vaccine would be frontline healthcare workers, followed by the elderly, then by those with vulnerable conditions, and then lastly, the general population.
“I think by the time we get to the general population, it's probably going to be well into the summer, maybe early fall of 2021,” said Salata.
The potential vaccine was co-invented by the University of Oxford and biotechnology company Vaccitech and licensed to AstraZeneca, which is a British pharmaceutical company.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is among the U.S. government funders for the clinical trial.
If you're interested in enrolling in this study of helping UH with other COVID-19 related studies, you can contact 833-788-7425 or email email@example.com.