UC Davis Health Thursday announced an agreement with drug manufacturer Pfizer and BioNTech SE of Germany to become a partner in a worldwide study of a potential vaccine against the latest strain of coronavirus. As part of that partnership, UC Davis Health officials are expecting to enroll up to 200 people for a clinical trial. The local volunteers will be part of a larger study group totally about 30,000 around the world. The vaccine being studied has reportedly already undergone rigorous evaluation in both the United States and Germany.
"We're excited to be collaborating with our partners in this important clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine," said UC Davis Health CEO David Lubarsky. "We are uniquely positioned to help with a possible breakthrough due to our clinical trials expertise, ability to recruit for clinical trials quickly, and track record of outreach to minority communities."
Ideally, UC Davis Health would like work with people who are at risk of being infected with the virus, like health care workers or those who deal with the public, including restaurant and retail store employees. The researchers are also interested in including essential workers who spend a lot of time outside their homes.
Since health experts say the virus is having a disproportionately high impact on people of color, such as Latinos and Blacks, they are especially encouraged to volunteer. All participants need to be between the ages of 18 and 85.
The local study is being led by UC Davis Health's Timothy Albertson, chairman of the UC Davis Health internal medicine department, and Angela Haczku, who is the associate dean for translational research.
"Although there are a number of COVID-19 vaccine candidates worldwide, this one differs because it utilizes a novel modified messenger ribonucleic acid, which includes a piece of the genetic code of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19," Haczku said. She added that this is the first time in history that this type of vaccine is being used against an infectious disease.
If this particular vaccine continues to show promise, Pfizer and BioNTech officials have said they should be able request review by the federal government as early as October. If the vaccine receives federal regulatory approval, then the companies are promising to produce as many as 100 million doses by the end of 2020. They also suggest they could have over 1 billion doses available by the end of 2021.