Savannah, Georgia, news anchor first in US treated with coronavirus vaccine trial

(CNN) - Monday was a historic day in medicine. The first study subjects took part in the phase three trial of a vaccine against COVID-19.

Dawn Baker usually delivers the news, but Monday morning, the television anchor in Savannah, Georgia, made news - made history - as the first person in the U.S. to participate in a Phase 3 clinical trial for a vaccine against COVID-19.

"It's really exciting to me that I could be a part of saving lives eventually, instead of just being scared and praying," Baker said.

After Baker’s injection, study leader Dr. Paul Bradley called Moderna, the company that makes the vaccine: “Connor, I have amazing news. We dosed the first patient.”

The National Institutes of Health is collaborating on the trial. Dr. Anthony Fauci marked the day on a call with the media.

“I can tell you absolutely that the first one was at 6:45 this morning in Savannah, Georgia,” Fauci said. “Indeed, we are participating today in the launching of a truly historic event in the history of vaccinology.”

There are 89 study sites across the country for this vaccine, and Phase 3 trials are underway for four other vaccines, three of those in China and one in the United Kingdom.

Scientists hope that results of Moderna’s trial will be clear in a few months - and a vaccine on the market by the end of this year or the beginning of next, but that’s if the vaccine is proven safe and effective, which is not a given.

About 15,000 people nationwide are going to get injected with the vaccine during the clinical trial. Another 15,000 people will be injected with a placebo. And then afterwards, doctors will compare who gets sick with COVID-19 and who doesn’t.”

Doctors are recruiting study subjects who live in communities where they are most likely to get COVID,- so they can see if the vaccine truly works.

“We want people who are going to be exposed out there in the community living their lives, whether they’re, say, a healthcare worker where, unfortunately, we get exposed frequently. Maybe they work in a grocery store, but we want people that are unfortunately at risk.” Bradley said.

That’s why doctors are recruiting heavily among the African-American and Latino communities, where COVID rates are especially high. But it’s a challenge because historically these communities have been abused in medical research.

“They’re very suspicious so maybe, you know, since I was at least bold enough to come forward right now, that might change that,” Baker said. “It’s exciting. I’m anxious about it. I hope there are good results. A lot of people are doing different vaccine trials. I feel good. I feel so proud.”

The Phase 3 trial is the last stop before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decides whether it can go on the market.

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