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URMC conducting trial for potential coronavirus vaccine

Sep 4, 2020

Dr. Angela Branche speaks during a news conference held this week via Zoom about a clinical trial being held for a potential coronavirus vaccine.
Credit URMC/Zoom screenshot

The University of Rochester Medical Center is conducting another Phase 3 clinical trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine under the federal Operation Warp Speed initiative.

More than 30,000 people from around the country will be recruited for the study, including 1,000 in Rochester. Volunteers will receive the first doses of the vaccine, which was developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Dr. Angela Branche, co-director of the URMC Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, said they don’t know what they’re going to find, but that’s why phase 3 trials are conducted. Phase 3 is the final stage of development of a vaccine before FDA approval.

"We’re very optimistic about a positive outcome,” said Dr. Ann Falsey, who is co-leading the trial locally and co-directs the URMC Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit.

According to URMC, earlier clinical trials suggest the vaccine is safe and causes an immune response to the virus. The study aims to determine whether it provides protection from infection across age groups and medical conditions.

Falsey said this is the third major Phase 3 study moving ahead in the U.S. Just last month, 1,000 volunteers from Rochester were the first to participate in another Phase 3 study for another vaccine.

Daryl Moorehead, a social worker for Monroe County, is a participant in the vaccine trial.

"I felt that it was essential that the African community be involved in the broad-based, diverse trials, for the clinical trials, medications and vaccines," Moorehead said. "We’ve been underrepresented over the years.”

Branche says federal and state officials are preparing for the possibility that one of the studies that started this summer or early fall will be able to show overwhelming efficacy.

"It’s possible that it can happen in the late fall, and it’s possible it can happen before the end of the year, and it’s possible we may have to wait until early next year,” Branche said.

Those interested in taking part in the study can go to covidresearch.urmc.edu or call 585-276-5212.