(CNN) – Monday was a historic day in medicine. The first study subjects took part in the phase three trial of a vaccine against COVID-19.
Dawn Baker usually delivers the news, but Monday morning, the television anchor in Savannah, Georgia, made news – made history – as the first person in the U.S. to participate in a Phase 3 clinical trial for a vaccine against COVID-19.
“It’s really exciting to me that I could be a part of saving lives eventually, instead of just being scared and praying,” Baker said.
After Baker’s injection, study leader Dr. Paul Bradley called Moderna, the company that makes the vaccine: “Connor, I have amazing news. We dosed the first patient.”
The National Institutes of Health is collaborating on the trial. Dr. Anthony Fauci marked the day on a call with the media.
“I can tell you absolutely that the first one was at 6:45 this morning in Savannah, Georgia,” Fauci said. “Indeed, we are participating today in the launching of a truly historic event in the history of vaccinology.”
There are 89 study sites across the country for this vaccine, and Phase 3 trials are underway for four other vaccines, three of those in China and one in the United Kingdom.
Scientists hope that results of Moderna’s trial will be clear in a few months – and a vaccine on the market by the end of this year or the beginning of next, but that’s if the vaccine is proven safe and effective, which is not a given.
About 15,000 people nationwide are going to get injected with the vaccine during the clinical trial. Another 15,000 people will be injected with a placebo. And then afterwards, doctors will compare who gets sick with COVID-19 and who doesn’t.”
Doctors are recruiting study subjects who live in communities where they are most likely to get COVID, so they can see if the vaccine truly works.
“We want people who are going to be exposed out there in the community living their lives, whether they’re, say, a healthcare worker where, unfortunately, we get exposed frequently. Maybe they work in a grocery store, but we want people that are unfortunately at risk.” Bradley said.
That’s why doctors are recruiting heavily among the African-American and Latino communities, where COVID rates are especially high. But it’s a challenge because historically these communities have been abused in medical research.
“They’re very suspicious so maybe, you know, since I was at least bold enough to come forward right now, that might change that,” Baker said. “It’s exciting. I’m anxious about it. I hope there are good results. A lot of people are doing different vaccine trials. I feel good. I feel so proud.”
The Phase 3 trial is the last stop before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decides whether it can go on the market.
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