Clinical trials to test COVID-19 vaccine underway in the Triad

Coronavirus

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — It may be considered one of the most significant studies in our lifetime. Clinical trials to test COVID-19 vaccines are underway in the Triad.

PMG Research in Winston-Salem is one of many clinical research companies around the world testing a vaccine for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

For the next 26 months, patient volunteers will be monitored. They receive two vaccines at the beginning of the study, administered three weeks apart. Then at each office visit, they will have their blood drawn to find out if the vaccine is building antibodies.

“We have to prove that the vaccine works and we also need to prove that there is an adequate immune response, where people are making antibodies to the vaccine,” said Dr. Jonathan Wilson, the medical director at PMG Research in Winston-Salem.

Wilson says one of the most common questions he’s asked during a vaccine study is, “Are you giving me the virus?”

The simple answer is no. It’s not a live virus vaccine.

“It’s not any part of the virus that would actually make anyone ill. The technology is based on the spike protein that’s on the outside of the virus and your body is making antibodies towards that,” Wilson said.

The PMG Research facility in Winston-Salem expects 200 to 300 patient volunteers to participate in the study. Wilson says without volunteers, there’s no chance at a vaccine.

“That’s why we consider our patient volunteers as heroes because they are part of the process that is for the greater good,” Wilson said.

Wilson says vaccines don’t develop overnight. He would like to think they will have one by the middle of next year, but he says there is no substitute for safety and they can’t rush the process.

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