Next month, the University of Illinois at Chicago will begin testing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
“We want to see if the vaccine will prevent people from getting COVID-19 or if it will prevent people from experiencing severe illness if they do get the disease,” said Dr. Richard Novak, lead investigator of the clinical trial at UIC, in a statement.
The vaccine, developed by the biotech company Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, doesn’t contain the virus. The RNA-based vaccine is designed to help the body produce antibodies that protect against COVID-19.
“RNA vaccines represent a new class of vaccines that researchers hope will be more effective than other types,” said Novak, who has led numerous clinical trials for infectious diseases. “The application of this type of innovation to COVID-19 is exciting, although the need for a vaccine of any type against COVID-19 is a pressing and urgent public health necessity.”
The trial is set to launch July 9 at UIC, which is expected to be the only site in Chicago for the phase three clinical trial of the Moderna vaccine, according to a UIC press release.
Researchers hope to enroll up to 30,000 individuals in the trial, including about 1,000 through UIC. According to Novak, investigators will screen volunteers for the trial to ensure that 40% or more are at least 65 years old.
“We want to test this vaccine in people who are most at risk of experiencing complications and death due to the virus,” Novak said.
Participants will be randomly assigned either to receive the vaccine or a placebo. Neither the researchers nor the participants will know who gets the vaccine. Researchers will collect basic demographic and health information, as well as blood samples from participants, who will be monitored for two years.
Researchers will check in with participants weekly to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, will conduct testing if symptoms develop and take additional blood samples to test for antibodies, according to a UIC press release.