Hundreds in Baltimore Area Take Part in COVID Vaccine Trial

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - On the path forward, Baltimore doctors and hundreds of people who live here are part of a leading vaccine trial for COVID-19.

They’re hopeful we could see crucial results on how the vaccine is working by the end of this year.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine is playing a pivotal role in developing the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine.

Retired firefighter paramedic Anthony Oles is one of more than 400 people taking part in the trail here in Baltimore.

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"I get a shot in my left arm," he says. "The sooner we get a vaccine the better."

"Nationwide there are approximately 30,000 individuals for this Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine," says Dr. Matthew Laurens with the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health with the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The Moderna trial is in phase 3.

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"It’s called a blinded study where the investigators and participants don’t know which vaccine they’re getting," says Dr. Laurens.

"I don’t know if I’m getting the actual vaccine or the placebo saline, neither does the staff at the university," says Oles.

Oles has had two shots, one in August, another in September.

For a week after each he answered daily questions on an app.

"What I’ve been doing. If I’ve been going back to work or just laying at home taking it easy. If I have any pain, tenderness and swelling," he says. "Then following that they call me or text me once every week."

He says he hasn’t had any issues.

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"I feel great," he says. "It's just life as normal with a couple of in clinic visits. They usually do a blood draw and a basic physical and ask me all the same questions."

"This study has involved folks from many different backgrounds and many walks of life. This will help us to develop a vaccine that hopefully will protect everyone," says Dr. Laurens. "We are including elderly individuals as well as any other adults. We are including those who are having high risk conditions, so individuals with heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, they're all included as well."

The Moderna trial is part of Operation Warp Speed.

Dr. Laurens explains we could know by the end of the year how well the vaccine works.

It depends on comparing COVID cases among the two groups in the study.

"If the vaccine works then you’ll have very few infections in the vaccine group and many more infections in the placebo group," he says. "That will sort of tell us the difference if the vaccine is effective, if it does protect against COVID and how big of a difference it can make."

"It's the future of the country," Oles says.

Because of that, they’re working fast and furiously to develop a vaccine thanks to people like Oles.

"I'm just doing it to be helpful," Oles says. "It's just a way to give back."

Dr. Laurens says they'll follow participants for two years, but it won't necessarily take that long to determine how effective it is.

"This is something we’re accelerating very quickly, but at the same time we’re not skipping the steps that are required for safety. We’re still following the sequence of phase one, phase two, phase three trials. It’s just a significant financial support that we’re getting from the US government and individual donors and private partnership‘s that are allowing us to advance so quickly."

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