Currents News Staff
Dawn Baker usually delivers the news as a television anchor. But on July 27, this television anchor in Savannah, Georgia, made news and made history as the first person in the United States to participate in a Phase three 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,” said Baker.
The National Institutes of Health is collaborating on the trial. After Baker’s injection, vaccine study leader Dr. Paul Bradley called Moderna, the company that makes the vaccine and told them,“I have amazing news. We dosed the first patient.”
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. Indeed we are participating today in the launching of a truly historic event in the history of vaccinology,” he said.
There are 89 study sites across the country for this vaccine and Phase three trials are underway for four other vaccines, three of those in China and one in the U.K.
Scientists hope that results of Moderna’s trial will be clear in a few months and that a vaccine will be on the market by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2021.
But that’s if the vaccine is proven safe and effective, which is not a given. Two different types of trials are taking place. About 15,000 people nationwide are going to get injected with the prototype during the clinical trial. But another 15,000 people will be injected with something that looks similar to the vaccine, but is actually a placebo that’s just saline. 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 the coronavirus, so they can see if the vaccine truly works. Study leader Dr. Bradley seeks people who might have high exposure.
“We want people who are going to be exposed out there in the community living their lives,” he said. “Whether they’re a health care worker, where unfortunately they get exposed frequently. Maybe they work in a grocery store, but we want people that are unfortunately at risk.”
That’s why doctors are recruiting heavily among the African-American and Latino communities, where COVID-19 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,” said Baker.
When asked about being the first person in the U.S. to get a shot in a Phase three COVID-19 trial, Baker said she had an array of emotions.
“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 three trial is the last stop before the FDA decides whether it can go on the market.