CINCINNATI — UC Health and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine clinicians administered a first dose Tuesday that will evaluate the effectiveness of a vaccine for COVID-19, mRNA-1273, in a clinical trial. The study just entered Phase Three, the final step before broader FDA approval.
The first patient to receive a dose was 37-year-old Cincinnati resident Jarelle Marshall.
“We’re all in this together,” Marshall said. “We all want to get things back open and get back to as normal as possible.”
Marshall will receive a second dose of the vaccine in approximately one month’s time. He said volunteering to be a part of the trial is a small gesture he hopes could get the country past the pandemic more quickly.
"I mean, I did some type of little part," said Marshall. "I didn't serve in the military or anything like that, so doing something small like this, a little bit of my time for the greater good is awesome."
The team working on the vaccine said all evidence, so far, is encouraging, especially because few medical trials ever reach Phase Three in the first place.
"A lot of studies don't make it this far because of earlier data," said Dr. Maggie Powers-Fletcher, co-investigator for UC's COVID-19 vaccine trial. "That's why we're so optimistic, because the data has been looking good."
The vaccine is intended to produce a viral antigen which will activate a response in the body’s immune system. Patients involved in the trial will keep a daily electronic diary of their symptoms and participate in telehealth and in-person visits for a two-year period. Currently, UC and UC Health's trial is trying to determine whether the vaccine dose prevents COVID-19 infection and, if so, how long that lasts. They're also looking for whether it causes patients to produce antibodies.
"Everyone's goal, of course, is that the data is so promising early on as we're seeing it that we could get an answer or solution faster than that," said Powers-Fletcher. "So I think everyone is hopeful."
UC is one of almost 90 sites across the country which will administer the vaccine and monitor its efficacy in providing protection from COVID-19.
The study is being funded by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (NIAID)
The mRNA-1273 vaccine was developed by NIAID scientists in conjunction with Moderna, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Mass.