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Coronavirus vaccine trials will begin in the Portland metro area next week



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

The trials may begin as soon as next week for volunteers who must receive health care through the Kaiser network to participate.

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

“We have received an amazing response from our Kaiser membership,” she said, “which I think is a tribute to people believing in helping find the vaccine. Help our communities out of the social and economic unrest that we are in this pandemic. ”

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The center is one of three Kaiser facilities across the country participating in vaccine trials, developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech. The companies, under a $ 2 billion contract with the Trump Administration, are part of what the White House calls Operation Warp Speed, an effort to significantly reduce the time spent developing the active coronavirus vaccine. dynamic and distributable.

The Pfizer Vaccine is one of eight vaccines in the world that has entered a three-phase trial phase – the final stage before a drug can be made available to the public. Another trial of a vaccine developed by the Moderna company is underway in Medford.

Oregonians participating 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 medical conditions, like cancer, will be screened.

Torgrimson-Ojerio said participants will sign a disclaimer, but they are free to end their trial at any time.

“It is really important for any study to have a potential risk associated with it, to work closely with participants and explain to them the potential harm and benefit,” she said. power.

Selected Oregonians will participate in the so-called double-blind trial. Half will get the vaccine and half will get a placebo. They won’t know which one they get.

The participants will then record and report back to Kaiser of any side effects, like a flu shot, that may include coronavirus symptoms. They will also receive a “booster” vaccine a few weeks after the first injection.

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

Researchers will analyze effectiveness by determining if coronavirus infection is more common in people who have received either a vaccine or a placebo, Torgrimson-Ojerio said. Health care professionals also need to make sure that the side effects from vaccines can be managed.

The US Food and Drug Administration will ultimately decide if the vaccine is ready to hit the market.

Vaccines usually take years to complete before they are allowed for medical use. The rapid pace of coronavirus trials has led scientists to fear that increasing political pressure could lead to erroneous results.

According to the New York Times database, the United States has recorded more than 5.2 million coronavirus infections and 166,900 people have died.

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

– Bryce Dole; bdole@oregonian.com; 541-660-9844; @DoleBryce


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