UAB to Start Human Trial on COVID-19 Vaccine Next Month

Dr. Paul Goepfert, a clinician and director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic. (UAB)

UAB researchers said today that they will begin Phase II human trials next month on a vaccine for COVID-19 developed by Oxford University with pharmaceutical giant AstroZeneca.

About 500 participants will receive the vaccine locally as part of a nationwide trial of 33,000 participants.

Researchers have found the vaccine produced antibodies and killer T-calls to combat the virus infection.

The two-dose injections are given a month apart, said Dr. Paul Goepfert, a clinician and director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic. “This will be the largest trial that we have done in many years, but we have been doing studies since the 1990s,” Goepfert said.

The vaccine will be given to different patient populations, but the trial will focus on nursing homes, assisted living centers, distribution centers and car factories … “any place where people work close together,” he said.

Participants will be followed for a year after the injections.

Elderly participants will be selected because of their high mortality rates, Goepfert said.

During the clinical trials, AstraZeneca is working to manufacture 2 billion doses of the vaccine so it can be distributed as early as possible.

“Early studies show the vaccine gives immune responses,” Goepfert said.

Worldwide, there are more than 165 vaccines currently being researched with 27 in human trials, according to the New York Times.

The U.S. government has committed $2 billion in vaccine research to various drug companies. AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have received federal backing to accelerate the development and manufacturing of drugs and vaccines for COVID-19.

“If one vaccine works, it is likely all will work,” said clinician and researcher, Dr. Nathan Erdmann.

Goepfert said if the vaccine works, “We can go back to normal before COVID.

“In five months … December to January, we will know if the vaccine works,” he said.

Earlier this month, UAB researcher announced one vaccine candidate researched at the university has shown positive preclinical results. The research on AdCOVID, an intranasal spray, was done in conjunction with Altimmune Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in Maryland.