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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

UVM Medical Center To Participate In Trial For COVID-19 Vaccine

Beth Kirkpatrick stands behind a podium
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ORCA Media
On Tuesday, Beth Kirkpatrick, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Vermont Medical Center announced at a bi-weekly press conference that UVM will participate in a trial for a new coronavirus vaccine.

The University of Vermont is looking for local volunteers to participate in a Phase 3 trial for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine.

UVM Medical Center and UVM’s Larner College of Medicine have been chosen to play a role in the final phase of trials for a vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

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It’s one of four COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have been approved for Phase 3 trials by the federal Food and Drug Administration.  

“What we don’t know yet is whether these vaccines work and how well they work to actually prevent the actual coronavirus illness,” said Beth Kirkpatrick, an infectious disease specialist with UVM Medical Center. “So these are pivotal trials for us to get to the point where a vaccine or vaccines can be licensed and used in the broader population.”

Kirkpatrick announced UVM’s participation in the trial during Gov. Phil Scott’s COVID-19 media briefing Tuesday.

"What we don't know yet is whether these vaccines work and how well they work to actually prevent the actual coronavirus illness," - Beth Kirkpatrick, UVM Medical Center

She said Vermont is one of 80 sites across the U.S. conducting trials for this particular vaccine candidate, which will be administered to about 30,000 people nationwide.

Kirkpatrick said UVM is looking for 250 volunteers from Vermont, northern New York and New Hampshire to participate in the trial. And she said researchers are especially interested in studying the vaccine’s effects on people over the age of 65, and people with “stable” preexisting medical conditions.

She said researchers are also looking to enroll health care providers, first responders, and other people whose occupations put them at a high risk of contracting COVID-19.

More from VPR: Vermont Officials Announce Preliminary COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

“We spend a considerable amount of time with each person, walking through the whole study, risks and benefits, so an individual can make an individual decision,” Kirkpatrick said.

She said the trial will follow participants over two years to determine whether the vaccine is effective.

If another vaccine candidate is approved for public use in the meantime, she said participants will have the option of dropping out of the study to receive the approved vaccine.

More from VPR: Poll Shows Fewer Than Half Of Vermonters Eager To Take Vaccine

She said previous trials have already indicated the vaccine is safe.

Anyone interested in participating in the trial can find more information by visiting UVMHealth.org/COVIDStudy, or by calling 802-847-7339.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Peter Hirschfeld @PeteHirschfeld.

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