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University of Maryland begins testing COVID-19 vaccine on volunteers ages 18-85
A vaccine to fight against the deadly new coronavirus is being injected into volunteers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. (Image: ABC7)

A vaccine to fight against the deadly new coronavirus is being injected into volunteers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Unlike most vaccines, this one does not inject virus proteins into the body.

Researchers are studying the safety, efficacy, and dosing of the experimental mRNA- based vaccine as part of a multicenter study in the U.S. and Germany.

The first recipient was a doctoral candidate named David Rach. He didn’t flinch when he got the shot and he didn’t hesitate to sign up for the trial. 

“We have the coronavirus pandemic spreading around the world at the moment our hospitals are being overwhelmed our most vulnerable are dying and the quickest easiest way out of this mess is a vaccine,” Rach explained.

The research, funded by Pfizer, involves four different versions of a vaccine given in varying doses to about 90 people.

The initial stage will include up to 360 participants, but in Baltimore, up to 90 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 85 will participate. 

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Principle investigator, Dr. Kirsten Lyke, who previously led efforts to create an Ebola vaccine, says there is no reason to believe it won’t work. 

“We do this day in and day out, developing vaccines, and to be able to bring our expertise to a crisis like this pandemic is really gratifying,” says Dr. Lyke, “I’m sure that there will be a vaccine. We’ve been through this before.”

Dr. Lyke says the trial will continue through the summer as doses are given and the recipients' blood is checked for COVID antibodies. 

The research is racing to beat a possible second wave of the disease.

 “We’re shooting for autumn, date to be determined, but autumn to down select our combinations of vaccines to that one vaccine that we want to take into mass production," Dr. Lyke says.  

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Participants will receive two injections one month apart. The first group will consist of healthy adults aged 18 to 55 years old. The next group will be aged 65- 85 years old. 

ALSO READ: Pediatricians urge parents to keep vaccinating children during pandemic

Researchers will study the effects of different dosages and types of vaccines to learn which one produces the best immune response. 

For David Rach its now a waiting game.

 “I hope I can incubate enough antibodies so they can see if its effective or not,” he says.


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