ILLINOIS MEDICAL DISTRICT — Starting next month, the University of Illinois at Chicago will test the efficacy of a vaccine that could protect individuals at greatest risk of coronavirus.
UIC is set to launch a clinical trial on July 9 to test a vaccine developed by Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna.
The trials are designed to assess whether the vaccine, which aims to produce antibodies that protect against COVID-19, can prevent people from contracting the disease or reduce the severity of symptoms for those who do.
Dr. Richard Novak, head of infectious diseases at UIC’s medical school, will be the lead investigator in the trial. UIC is expected to be the only site in Chicago participating in the trial, university officials said Monday.
In March, UIC hospital was among more than 75 hospitals across the world testing the efficacy of antiviral drug remdesivir to help fight coronavirus.
As part of the new trial administered by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, UIC is seeking to enroll 1,000 participants with 40 percent of participants being 65 years and older. The clinical trial network looks to enroll up to 30,000 individuals in total, university officials said.
“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,” Novak said in a statement. “We want to test this vaccine in people who are most at risk of experiencing complications and death due to the virus.”
UIC will conduct a “randomized, double-blind” study placebo and control trial. Half of patients will receive the vaccine and the other half will receive a placebo.
Neither patients or researchers will know who gets the vaccine, Novak said.
As part of the study, researchers will take blood samples, demographic and health information and follow up with participants for two years. The trial will be accessible throughout the University of Illinois hospital system and will recruit in neighborhoods such as Pilsen, Little Village and Hyde Park.
More than 6,300 people in Illinois have died from complications related to coronavirus infections, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Nearly 2,400 of those who died lived in Chicago.
Anyone interested in volunteering to participate in the vaccine trial should contact UIC researchers at 312-413-5897 or email ProjectWishDOM@uic.edu.
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