Vaccine COVID-19: Over 50K sign up to join UIC-led coronavirus study

Coronavirus vaccine USA: Chicago to join 30K-person nationwide study
CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than 50,000 people have signed up in just two days nationwide for a new phase of vital research set to begin in Chicago.

And it seems there are encouraging results coming from the first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S.

Chicago is set to be part of a 30,000-person nationwide study led locally by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

It's to test whether a new vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health actually works to protect against the coronavirus in the real world. Dr. Richard Novak is the lead trial investigator at UIC.

"We're going to select people for the study who are at risk for COVID-19," Novak said. "In the end, we're going to try to see if there are fewer symptomatic cases in the vaccine arm versus the placebo arm. That would be the measure of success."

A report released this week from the New England Journal of Medicine found Moderna's experimental vaccine revved up the immune system the way scientists hoped it would.

"It really induces a very potent immune response which can neutralize the virus in the laboratory," Novak said.

Doctors are looking for a diverse trial group, recruiting first responders and in Black and Latino neighborhoods. But, that's far from the only vaccine being tested.

There are 23 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation right now, according to the World Health Organization.

That includes one from pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, with trials starting at Cook County Health in August. Doctors there say it's shown promise against COVID-19 in animals.

"If we think about how fast, going from sequencing this virus to vaccine that can be tested in humans, in such a short amount of time, and under three months, (it) has been really amazing to see," said Dr. Ronald Lubelchek, attending infectious diseases doctor with Cook County Health.

It's a worldwide race for a COVID-19 solution, and you can help here in Chicago.

"I think that the approach of having multiple possible vaccine candidates will hopefully get us to where we need to be," Lubelchek said.

If you want to be a part of the nationwide vaccine trials, you can head to coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org to volunteer to be a part of testing a solution. Trials at UIC should start near the end of the month.
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