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The GW Hatchet

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GW launches clinical trials, testing centers to test potential COVID-19 vaccine

File Photo by Alexander Welling | Senior Staff Photographer
The development and fundraising department of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences is looking to fill five open positions, most of which have been vacant for more than a year.

The University has entered the race to find a vaccine for COVID-19, as officials have launched a series of testing centers as part of a nationwide clinical trial, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The Business Journal reported Tuesday that GW officials are recruiting 500 D.C.-area participants to volunteer in the trials that will analyze the effectiveness of the vaccine on “high-risk” individuals during a two-year period. Researchers will conduct testing at the Medical Faculty Associates’ downtown facility, a trailer at the corner of 20th and H streets and two mobile clinics in Southeast D.C., according to the report.

The report states MFA, Milken Institute School of Public Health and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences staff are targeting Black and Latino volunteers, health care, grocery, meatpacking and restaurant employees and civilians who are either elderly or have pre-existing conditions because they are more likely to be exposed to the virus. The study team will select the participants from two lists – one with 500 local volunteers and another with 200,000 people who have registered across the country, the report states.

SMHS officials announced the University’s participation in the trials late last month, naming David Diemert, a professor of medicine and MFA infectious disease physician, as the leading figure of GW’s involvement. Diemert said GW’s push to craft a treatment for the ongoing pandemic was a significant undertaking for the University.

“COVID-19 is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, and it is of utmost importance to find a safe and effective vaccine,” Diemert said in the release. “We are proud to play a role in the network of researchers working to reduce the impact of this deadly disease.”

The University’s team will randomly assign the participants either the vaccine or a placebo and monitor each person’s symptoms through electronic diaries for a two-year period, expected to wrap up around October 2022, according to the Business Journal. Although the participant monitoring will take two years, scientists may be able to analyze the vaccine’s full results by the end of this year, allowing them to start distributing the vaccine to consumers early next year, the report states.

The University is conducting the clinical trial in partnership with Moderna Inc., a biotechnology company in the third stage of testing its vaccine on an estimated 30,000 people across 89 sites nationwide, the Business Journal reported. The report states the University partnered with Moderna through the National Institutes of Health’s Coronavirus Prevention Network, “a clinical trial network” first founded to combat HIV.

The partnership comes as the first trial as part of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s campaign to accelerate the production of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the report. The report states that Moderna’s vaccine is one of 26 candidates for COVID-19 treatment in the World Health Organization.

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