’This study is the beginning of the end for COVID’: Midlothian lab runs final study for COVID-19 vaccine

Virginia lab running final study for COVID-19 vaccine

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Research Center in Midlothian has announced it’s accepting participants to take part in a two-year study to test the final stage of the three-part trial phase of its COVID-19 vaccine.

The Midlothian-based medical lab was selected by drug manufacturers Pfizer and Biotech to be the site where the study would be conducted.

Dr. Raymond Decker with Family Practice says since the pandemic began, the practice has been inundated with COVID-19 patients, which has slowed down the delivery of their health care services.

“We’re almost there. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of wearing all this stuff. I’m tired of what it’s done to our society, I’m tired of what it’s done in our personal lives and I’d like to go back to what we had before, but I’d like to go back safer,” said Decker. “The only way we’re going to be able to do that is if this gets through phase three.”

The earlier phases included an animal study, followed by a limited human study. Decker says the final stage will begin administering the vaccine to a wider participant pool.

The vaccine will be administered similarly to the flu vaccine with a simple shot in hopes that your body creates enough antibodies to fight back the disease.

“A greater number of people will be getting the vaccine in order to produce the data significant enough so that we can say this is safe and effective,” said Decker.

Nationwide, Decker says Pfizer is looking for about 30,000 healthy adults between 18 and 85 years old. The study will consist of six visits, two injections of the vaccine, and five blood drawings between the vaccine to monitor if the vaccine is being effective.

“What we’re currently finding out is that the antibodies last for a certain period time, but we don’t really know how long, but in addition to that it’s also kicking up the activity between our B and T-cell lymphocytes and that’s providing you with a more stable, long-term immunity to COVID-19,” said Decker. “We’re trying to find out is the vaccine doing that, is it doing it effectively and how long is it doing it for? We want to know how long you are protected.”

The study takes place over the span of 24 months, but Decker says the public may not have to wait that long for the vaccine to hit the masses.

“We’re hoping that within the beginning part of this year, maybe January, maybe February, maybe later because it depends on how many people sign up and how quickly the data flows back in, that we can get approval by the FDA to allow mass production and distribution of the vaccine,” said Decker. “The FDA feels like they already have a good case for this so it’s already in production, it’s just that it needs phase three to be completed so that they can take what they’ve been making and release it.”

Patients will remain on-site for approximately three minutes after each injection for vaccination.

Due to the way the study vaccines are made, they cannot cause COVID-19. Patients will be responsible for entering their health status details regarding COVID-19 symptoms into an electronic diary every week for the course of the study.

The site will enroll about 40 patients a week and there are no demographic requirements to participate in the study.

“This study is the beginning of the end of COVID,” said Decker.

If you would like to participate in the study, contact the Virginia Research Center at 804-893-CARE. For more information about the study, click HERE.

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