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UVM Medical Center To Participate In COVID Vaccine Trial

UVM Medical Center main entrance
Pat Bradley/WAMC
UVM Medical Center main entrance (file)

The University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington will participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.
During Governor Phil Scott’s regular Tuesday COVID-19 briefing, officials announced the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine’s Vaccine Testing Center has been chosen as one of 80 sites in the U.S for a Phase 3 trial to evaluate a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Beth Kirkpatrick is UVM Medical Center Infectious Disease specialist and testing center director.  “This is the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine. Nationally four coronavirus vaccines have gone into Phase Three trials with two more potentially starting by the end of the year.  These vaccines have all successfully made it through the first several phases of human testing where safety is very emphasized as well as looking at whether the vaccine’s making immune we wanted. What we don’t know yet is whether these vaccines work and how well they work to prevent the actual Coronavirus illness. So these are pivotal trials for us to get to the point that a vaccine or vaccines can be licensed and used in the broader population.”

Kirkpatrick explained who is being sought to participate.  “It needs to be people that can get that will get Coronavirus illness. In Vermont 25% of our population in this study will need to be over the age of 65. We also need to enroll folks who have stable chronic pre-existing medical conditions and those with occupational and social exposures to Coronavirus including health care workers, teachers, police, etcetera. We will not be enrolling young healthy people that will not have symptomatic Coronavirus. We are highly committed to an inclusive study. Coronavirus disease has impacted greatly our Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities and we want to make sure that we offer all information and opportunity for everyone to participate.”

Participants will receive two injections of either the test vaccine or a placebo and Dr. Kirkpatrick said volunteers will be notified at the end of the approximately two-year trial if they got a placebo.  “It’s also worth noting that if another Coronavirus vaccine comes out while this trial is running as in any trial volunteers are always able to leave the trial if they wanted to get one of the other vaccines.”
Greg Lamoureux, County Courier: “And what’s the duration of this trial?”
Kirkpatrick:  “Those that are enrolled in the trial will be followed for two years. If the vaccine is licensed before that time the trial will be stopped and the placebos will be given the option to be given the vaccine.”
Governor Scott praised the UVM Medical Center for being chosen as one of the vaccine test sites.  “This is a testament to the Medical Center and the university’s leadership and expertise and will allow Vermonters to contribute to the important work of vaccine development. Developing and distributing a safe effective vaccine is essential to being able to manage this virus.”

Participation is voluntary and enrollment will be completed in 6 to 8 weeks. A prescreening questionnaire is at the UVM Medical Center website.