Detroit – Henry Ford Health System started the first Michigan inoculation on Wednesday with volunteers for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
The Detroit-based health care system is one of 90 nationwide and the only site in Michigan for the Phase 3 study of the drug Modern. Researchers hope to be able to register 30,000 volunteers across the country to receive the vaccine, which is administered by two injections.
Victor McFadden, 64, was ready to move from Detroit to South Carolina in March when the pandemic hit Michigan and prevented him from going with his sister to Myrtle Beach.
McFadden, a former housekeeper at Henry Ford Hospital, said he was thinking of his staff and his sister, who is a nurse, and decided he wanted to do everything he could to help seek a cure.
“I had everything packed and this happened, but if I can give it a jump start to find a way to get over with this, I’m all for it,” he said. “I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help. These young people are not taking it seriously and I’m stuck here in Michigan so why not do something that will help the world.”
Moderna is developing the vaccine in collaboration with the National Institute for Health. Nationwide, more than 150 coronavirus vaccines are being developed, 20 of which are close or in clinical trials.
“This is a historic time for us,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, Head of Infectious Diseases at Henry Ford Health. “COVID-19 causes millions of infections, hundreds of thousands of deaths and the vaccine is our best hope for resolving the infection and getting it under control.”
Study participants in the double-blind trial have a 50% chance of receiving placebo instead of the vaccine, which does not contain the real virus, according to the hospital system.
Instead, the vaccine contains mRNA, a genetic code that triggers the production of a protein believed to help the immune system produce antibodies to the virus.
“The vaccine, although an early study, has been shown to elicit antibody responses similar to what would happen to someone who has a natural infection with the virus,” Zervos said. “It has been shown to respond to white blood cells, which is very important in fighting later infections.”
Participants will receive two photos at 28-day intervals, will visit the enrollment center approximately seven times and will be followed by study organizers who will check in approximately once a month for two years.
Researchers will monitor individuals for COVID-19 symptoms or the antibodies that the vaccine seeks to produce, Zervos said.
When McFadden and Ashley Wilson, 24, go into the unknown, they both said they trusted doctors and were not afraid to get the first injection.
“My family is more nervous than I am,” said Wilson, who lives in Taylor. “I’m happy to help find answers because we’re all so desperate for this nightmare to end. My mother, who works in a nursing home, had a long break before I left home. You realize how short life is and I would rather be part of the solution than the problem. “
Wilson graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018 and moved to New York to work as a research assistant. She returned home in June after her office closed due to the pandemic.
“If the pandemic did not hit, I would probably still be working in the bustling part of the financial district, across the street from the World Trade Center, where I felt right at home and I would probably be less stressed,” she said. “The silver lining is that I have been able to come home and meet my family.”
Registration will continue for the next two months. Henry Ford Health joins 87 hospitals and universities now involved in the study.
Participants in the trial must be older than 18 years and free from diseases or conditions that compromise the immune system. People who have had COVID-19 in the past are not eligible for the study, Zervos said.
Among those wanted for the trial are people at high risk for exposure to the virus, older than 65 years are considered to be at risk for a severe case of the virus and individuals with “existing medical conditions that are stable at the time of screening.”
Each participant will receive $ 1,000 if all necessary visits have been completed. Subjects must continue to social distance and function as usual, officials said.
People can go to www.henryford.com/ModernaVaccine and, if contacted by the hospital, complete enrollment in Detroit at the Henry Ford Hospital Emergency Department, the seventh floor of the New Center One Building or the staff health clinic in the HAP building.
“Now is a critical time for us,” Zervos said. “Henry Ford has had a history of fighting major infectious diseases, even from the first opening of the hospital, we fought the pandemic flu … and had a hand in eradicating polio and copper.”
The voluntary recruitment comes when President Donald Trump once again pushes the press against the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment. While several studies have been shown to be ineffective, a Henry Ford Health study released in early July found the drug “significantly” reduced the death rate of patients who participated in the analysis.
Zervos, who helped lead the Henry Ford Health study, called for more research to see if hydroxychloroquine works on COVID-19.
More than 600 people participated in the first two phases of the Modern Vaccine Survey. The first phase determined that the drug was safe and the second phase showed that the body produced antibodies in response to the vaccine.
In the third phase, researchers will determine whether the antibodies successfully prevent humans from getting the virus. The timeline will depend on how quickly the registration of the 30,000 substances is completed. It is unclear how many are currently enrolled.
Side effects that participants have experienced so far include a sore arm and redness and a few people have had flu-like symptoms, Zervos said.
Should people become infected during the study, they would be cared for by the health system, officials say.
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