Virginia lab is one step closer to COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 9:54 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 22:42:44-04

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. - The fight against COVID-19 is far from over, but the Virginia Research Center in Midlothian just outside of Richmond is quickly working to help stop the virus in its tracks.

Dr. Aaron Hartman is one of the clinical researchers working around the clock to help develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

“It is sort of a race in that we have this infection that’s spreading, waxing and waning and until we really get an effective, preventative therapy, we’re all at the mercy of herd immunity,” said Hartman, the Medical Director at Virginia Research Center.

The research center entered its third and final phase for the clinical trial Friday injecting four participants with the dose.

“This is an exciting time. This is a novel vaccine delivery method,” said Hartman. “It’s a very unique vaccine and a very elegant, very clean vaccine, so I’m very excited about that.”

The goal is to have up to 300 people take part in the vaccine study to see if the body can create enough antibodies to fend off the infection.

“We’ve been a part of some pivotal studies before,” Hartman said. “This is the first one where it literally can change the face of healthcare in the country and the world.”

The Virginia Research Center is working with drug manufacturer Pfizer to run the trial. The pharmaceutical corporation and BioNTech are partnering to enlist 30,000 healthy adults from across the world to participate in the study.

Participants can range from 18-85 years old but cannot have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19. Those who get the vaccine will be evaluated over the course of two years to watch for side effects and determine how long immunity lasts.

Related: Virginia Tech COVID-19 lab ready to test thousands of student samples

“Everybody knows someone who is high risk,” said Hartman. “Everybody has been impacted by this, so this is our way of being a part of that and pulling our weight in contributing, so it’s really exciting.”

Researchers hope to have all the data collected by November 1. As far as when the general public could see the vaccine, that depends on FDA approval, but the hope is to have mass production of the Pfizer vaccine sometime early next year.

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