Dr. Beth Kirkpatrick of the UVM Medical Center on Tuesday
The University of Vermont Medical Center will be a trial site in the final testing phase of a coronavirus vaccine, officials announced on Tuesday.
The hospital, working with UVM's Vaccine Testing Center at the Larner College of Medicine, will enroll 250 participants for the phase three trial of a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott congratulated the medical center for being named a study site, which he said “will allow Vermonters to contribute to the important work of vaccine development.”
The third, and last, vaccine testing phase determines whether or not a vaccine is effective; it comes after a vaccine has proven to be safe across a broad population.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of four currently in the third stage of trials in the U.S., though testing was paused in early September after a UK participant began experiencing neurological symptoms.
After reviews by U.S. authorities and an independent monitoring board, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the go-ahead to restart the AstraZeneca trials last week.
Dr. Beth Kirkpatrick, an infectious disease specialist and the director of the Vaccine Testing Center, emphasized that more than 10,000 people across the world have already received the vaccine, which has been shown to be safe for the general population.
“What we don’t know yet is whether these vaccines work, and how well they work, to prevent the actual coronavirus illness," she said.
In the U.S., the phase three trials will enroll some 30,000 people at 80 sites across the country. UVM Medical Center is recruiting 250 of those participants locally. About a third of those participants will receive a placebo; the rest will get the vaccine.
Kirkpatrick emphasized that participants can’t get the coronavirus from the vaccine, and that the trials don’t involve giving anyone COVID-19.
She said the trial here is seeking out those over the age of 65, those with preexisting conditions, and those who may have a greater risk of exposure to coronavirus through their jobs, such as health care workers, teachers and police.
Vermonters or residents of northern New York and New Hampshire that are interested in participating can find more information about the study and how to participate here. Applicants can register now.
The study lasts two years and requires two shots: The first one and then a booster about a month later.
“We’re really looking forward to working with the community to help end the global pandemic,” Dr. Kirkpatrick said.