Developing a vaccine for COVID-19

August is Immunization Awareness Month, so we thought what better time to talk about the most talked about vaccine right now, the one for COVID-19.

We talked with 9Health Expert, Dr. Payal Kohli, and Dr. Thomas Cambpell, an infectious disease physician at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and the CU School of Medicine on Facebook Live.

Dr. Campbell is also on the team facilitating the phase 3 clinical trial of Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine at UCHealth. It is one of around 89 sites across the country enrolling for the study. Enrollment here in Colorado started last week and will continue until there are 30,000 participants nationwide.

Vaccine development includes a number of processes that typically take a long time but the one for COVID-19 has been fast tracked, “With the urgency to create an effective and safe COVID vaccine, that timeline has been compressed in a way that allows some of these processes to happen more in parallel, rather than one after the other,” explained Campbell.

“By doing that in no way does that compromise safety because the same processes that would be happening in a normal situation are still happening but they’re happening in a shorter timeline,” he added.

For the phase 3 clinical trial of Moderna’s vaccine, Campbell’s team is recruiting from UCHealth patients, staff, and providers based on a hierarchy of criteria. They are wanting to include those in high-risk occupations, people at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, and higher risk populations including Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic patients.

“We know that coronavirus cases in Black and Latino populations represent greater than 50 percent of the cases in the community, so we want a really good representation of this population in the vaccine trial,” said Kohli, “as soon as we complete that enrollment, we can then start collecting that data and really look to see how things are working.”

Kohli said that widespread vaccination is one of the only ways we have to get out of this pandemic, and while the process to develop a vaccine has been expedited, it will still take time, “Even when the vaccine does become available it will still take one or two years of us living in this kind of modified world that we’re living in before there’s widespread distribution, administration, development of immunity, and before we can really start to relax some of the mask wearing, social distancing, some of the changes that we’ve now incorporated into our lives.”

If you are interested in participating in the phase 3 study of Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine at UCHealth, click or tap here to contact Dr. Campbell.

Additional resources:

Coronavirus vaccines 101

CDC facts about COVID-19

COVID-19 latest from 9NEWS

If you have a health question you can talk to a medical professional through our 9Health Neighbors Program by calling 303-698-4455, ext. 2005. Leave a message and a 9Health Medical Volunteer will call you back within 24 hours

You can also now get preventive screenings and a COVID-19 antibody test through 9Health Fair at Quest Diagnostics Patient Service. Click here to find out more and purchase the screenings you would like.

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