Univ. of Iowa Health Care to participate in Phase 3 trial for Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine doses
COVID-19 vaccine doses(KBTX)
Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 11:48 AM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - University of Iowa Health Care announced on Friday it is participating in a large, Phase 3 clinical trial for a new COVID-19 vaccine.

Novavax, Inc. plans to enroll 30,000 participants in a multi-state clinical trial of its vaccine to validate its safety, tolerability, immunogenicity and efficacy.

UIHC said the Novavax vaccine works by injecting a piece of the outer coat of the SARS-CoV-2 virus along with a compound that stimulates the immune system. The vaccine cannot cause COVID-19 because it does not contain the whole virus. UIHC says the vaccine uses a similar technology to some seasonal flu vaccines.

University of Iowa Health Care said it started the vaccinations on January 4 and will enroll 250 participants.

The participants will receive two doses 21 days apart, with two thirds of the participants receiving the vaccine and one third getting a placebo injection.

Researchers with UIHC said the trial is open to men and nonpregnant women over the age of 18. But they’re hoping to recruit people over the age of 65; those who have medical conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure; underrepresented populations; and people working jobs that put them at high risk for coming into contact with the virus.

Dr. Patricia Winokur, executive dean of Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa is serving as the principal investigator for the trial. She also led the clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the University of Iowa.

“Different types of vaccines are helpful because certain people might respond better to one type of vaccine than another,” Dr. Winokur said.

Dr. Winokur says the Novavax vaccine can be stored at refrigerated temperatures, which is around 4 degrees Celsius. That makes it easier to store and distribute than vaccines that need to be kept at sub-zero temperatures. “If you look at how this vaccine is stored, it is stored at refrigerated temperatures. So if you’re thinking about a vaccine that might be more easily given in a private practitioner’s office, maybe in a country that doesn’t have quite the infrastructure that the United States has, this would be a great vaccine if it turns out to be as effective as the others,” says Dr. Winokur.

Dr. Winokur says the more “traditional” technology behind the Novavax vaccine could encourage more people to get the vaccine, saying “Some people might feel more comfortable, having that more traditional technology behind them. So that’s another positive thing.”

UIHC received its first shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on December 14 and began vaccinating its staff.

For more information on the clinical trial, click here.

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