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University Hospitals Chosen To Conduct Coronavirus Vaccine Trial

The vaccine uses a viral vector to insert genetic material into the body. [PhotobyTawat / Shutterstock]
The vaccine uses a viral vector to insert genetic material into the body. [PhotobyTawat / Shutterstock]

University Hospitals in Cleveland will be the clinical trial site for a COVID-19 vaccine, sponsored by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

UH researcher Dr. Grace McComsey said this will be one of the only leading vaccine trials to use a weakened cold virus to insert genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 into the body, which then triggers the immune system to fight off the coronavirus.

“There are two other companies, Pfizer and Moderna, both of them use the nucleic acid, what we call messenger RNA (MRNA),” she said. “So they don’t use a virus to take that gene and insert it into the body.”

Using a virus to get the genetic material into the body is kind of like using a Trojan horse, said McComsey. Once the person receives the vaccine, they’ll start producing antibodies. The hope is that after two doses, they won’t get sick if they become exposed to the virus, as long as they haven’t been infected before immunization.

UH is one of 80 clinical investigation sites in the United States that will enroll a total of 30,000 participants. According to a press release, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals will begin enrolling adults 18 and older for the trial at UH starting next week.

The trial is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

lisa.ryan@ideastream.org | 216-916-6158