ILLINOIS MEDICAL DISTRICT — The University of Illinois’ Health System is set to begin a clinical trial Monday to test out a potential coronavirus vaccine.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is enrolling up to 1,000 people for the trial to assess the efficacy of a vaccine developed by Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna, according to a news release from the university.
The trial will help determine if the vaccine — which helps people produce antibodies to fend off the virus — can prevent people from contracting the disease or reduce the severity of symptoms for those who do, according to university leaders.
Dr. Richard Novak, head of infectious diseases at UIC’s medical school, will be the lead investigator in the trial.
“If people with the vaccine have a lower chance of needing to be hospitalized when they do get sick, this would also be a really positive step forward and dramatically impact public health,” Novak said.
The trial is being administered by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The entire trial network seeks to enroll up to 30,000 individuals for testing.
Novak said the priority is high risk groups, individuals with pre-existing conditions and elderly individuals.
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.
To date, more than 2,000 people have contacted the university to participate. Clinicians want volunteers to represent as many different community groups across Chicago as possible, Novak said
More than 2,800 people have died from coronavirus in Chicago. More than 69,000 Chicagoans have become infected, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Anyone interested in volunteering to participate in the vaccine trial can sign up via UIC’s online registry, or call UIC researchers at 312-355-0656.
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