Coronavirus vaccine trials set to begin in metro Portland next week

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Kaiser Permanente is recruiting at least 100 Oregonians to participate in one of the state’s first coronavirus vaccine trials.

Trials could begin as early as next week for the volunteers, who must receive health care through the Kaiser Network to participate.

Britta Torgrimson-Ojerio, nurse researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, said volunteers were eager to sign up.

“We’ve already had an incredible response from our Kaiser members,” she said, “which I think is a tribute to how many people believe in helping to find a vaccine that will help. our community to emerge from the social and economic turmoil that we are in this pandemic.

The center is one of three Kaiser sites nationwide engaged in trials for the vaccine, which was developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. The companies, under a $ 2 billion deal with the Trump administration, are part of what the White House calls Operation Warp Speed, an effort to dramatically reduce the time it takes to develop an anti -functional and distributable coronavirus.

The Pfizer vaccine is one of eight vaccines in the world to have entered phase three trials – the last step before a drug can be given to the public. Another trial of a vaccine developed by the Moderna company is underway in Medford.

Oregonians who participate in the Kaiser trial will be part of a larger sample of 1,400 participants in Oregon and California, and 30,000 participants worldwide. People with serious health problems, like cancer, will be eliminated.

Participants will sign disclaimers, Torgrimson-Ojerio said, but they are free to end their trial at any time.

“It’s really important for any research that carries a potential risk to work closely with the participants and explain the potential harms and potential benefits to them,” she said.

Some Oregonians will participate in what’s called a double-blind trial. Half will receive the vaccine and the other half will receive a placebo. They will not know what they are receiving.

Participants will then log in and report to Kaiser about any side effects which, just like the flu shot, can include symptoms of coronavirus. They will also receive a “booster” vaccine a few weeks after the first injection.

Kaiser will collect the data for two months and then report it to Pfizer.

The researchers will analyze the effectiveness by determining whether coronavirus infections are more common in people who have received the vaccine or the placebo, Torgrimson-Ojerio said. Healthcare professionals should also make sure that the side effects of the vaccine are manageable.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will ultimately decide whether the vaccine is ready for the market.

Vaccines typically take years to be authorized for medical use. The rapid pace of coronavirus trials has raised concern among scientists who fear that growing political pressure will lead to botched results.

The United States has recorded more than 5.2 million coronavirus infections and 166,900 have died, according to a New York Times database.

“I sincerely believe that we don’t want to rush through this process because the best way to get through this difficult time of this pandemic is to get a vaccine that works and works for a diverse community and population,” said Torgrimson- Ojerio.

– Bryce Dole; [email protected]; 541-660-9844; @DoleBryce

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