COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in Atlanta is full

The Atlanta clinical trial testing a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 is full.

Seventeen participants have joined the Atlanta part of the clinical trial, which is overseen by Emory University’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU), a spokesperson said. 

The vaccine developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Moderna Inc. is the first to be tested in the United States.

The goals of the Phase I study, which began on March 16 at the VTEU at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, are to test whether the investigational vaccine is safe, and how much it stimulates the immune system. If the vaccine is found to be safe, future studies will examine whether it can prevent infection.

The trial was slated to enroll 45 participants total across the two sites, Atlanta and Seattle. 

The study is sponsored by NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health. The Emory VTEU is part of NIAID’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium supporting this trial.

The principal investigator for this study at Emory is Dr. Evan Anderson, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. . 

Dr. Nadine Rouphael serves as the Emory VTEU contact principal investigator. Rouphael is the interim director of the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center and associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at Emory University School of Medicine.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial morbidity and mortality in the US and worldwide along with causing massive social disruption,” Anderson said in a statement announcing Emory’s participation in the study. “The Emory VTEU is proud to contribute to enrolling people into this critical Phase I study evaluating the first vaccine candidate against COVID-19.” 

Rouphael said, “A vaccine against COVID-19 is urgently needed because of widespread infection and lack of preexisting immunity. We are looking forward to being part of a nationwide effort to respond to this crisis.”

The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, is based on messenger RNA, which tells some cells in the body to make a viral protein. The RNA-based approach allows for faster vaccine development than older methods. The vaccine does not contain coronavirus itself and cannot cause infection.

Participants had to be adults in the Atlanta area age 18 to 55. To be eligible, they couldn’t have chronic diseases or health conditions that affect the immune system, and they couldn’t be taking immunosuppressive medications. Additional information about the vaccine study is available here.

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