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Researchers look to give vaccine to placebo trial participants

At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Moderna Phase 3 trial is a two-year-long commitment with half of the participants receiving the vaccine and the other half a placebo.

Dr. Spyros Kalams is the principal investigator for the trial and says news of several promising vaccine candidates has people asking — what if I get a placebo?

“It’s the number 1 question from our trial participants,” said Kalams and Moderna is working on an answer. “They’re trying to find out a way, right now, to give them the active vaccine and continue to follow them.”

Dr. Kalams stresses that ongoing trials will only continue to help researches find ways to fight COVID-19.

“All of the vaccine manufactures realize that everybody knows that there are vaccines that look effective, why should I go into another clinical trial? And number one, we’re trying to figure out which one is best. Which one might be better for certain groups of people.”

While those discoveries are import to the masses, Dr. Kalams acknowledges the health of participants is still the number one focus in the Moderna trial.

“All of those participants who stepped up and came out really out of altruism because they had no idea if this was going to work, they just wanted to contribute, we’re trying to treat them with great respect,” said Kalams, “If you’re in the group that gets the placebo, we’re going to find some way to get you the active vaccine.”

This will only happen if the FDA approves an Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine.