There is no question that humankind requires assistance…a heavy-hitter, a formidable opponent to help
combat COVID-19. An effective vaccine is exactly that shot in the arm we need to protect ourselves
against this deadly pandemic. So, that begs the question, “Where are we in the process of COVID-19
The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that have spike-like, or shall we say crown-like (hence the
name coronavirus), structures on their surface. These structures, referred to as the S protein, can attach
themselves to human cells. An effective COVID-19 vaccine may very well be one that targets this protein
to prevent it from binding to human cells and, thereby, stops the virus from reproducing. There are also
additional COVID-19 vaccine approaches that are currently in the development stages.
Several vaccines have been tested on animals, and while they have not prevented contraction, they
improved survival. However, some of these vaccines caused complications including lung damage.
Obviously, a vaccine for humans would need to be thoroughly tested for safety.
Live vaccines, like those used to protect against the measles, smallpox and chickenpox, use a weakened
form of the germ that causes disease. Although these vaccines have been found to be effective, some
live viruses are a major concern for those with weakened immune systems or for the portion of our
population that is not immunized.
Inactivated viruses, such as those used to prevent against influenza, do not use the live virus. However,
they may be so weak that they require multiple booster vaccines. Another downside to inactivated
viruses is that, because they require so many additional doses, they will most likely require large
amounts of the infectious virus for production.
There are also genetically engineered vaccines which use RNA and DNA to copy the S protein in hopes of
prompting an immune response to the virus.
As we rapidly work toward producing a COVID-19 vaccine, we must also take into account the
occurrences of re-infection or long-term infection. An effective COVID-19 vaccine would need to provide
adequate protection for this as well. Additionally, older people do not generally respond as effectively to
vaccines as younger people. So, a COVID-19 vaccine with optimal efficacy would need to work within our
aging population as well.
Where are we with all this? Although vaccines usually take years to develop and test, public health
experts are hoping one or more COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of this year. Currently, at
least 200 different variations of a COVID-19 vaccine are being tested. This is how it works…
According to the Food and Drug Administration, an approved vaccine would need to be proven to be
safe and show effectiveness for at least 50 percent of those vaccinated. In order to get to that point, we
started with Phase 1 of COVID-19 vaccine testing, which consisted of small-scale safety trials. These
clinical trials were conducted on a small number of people in an attempt to determine dosage, safety
and efficacy. Phase 2 expanded this COVID-19 vaccine research to hundreds of people. These clinical
trial phases were actually combined in an effort to speed up the discovery of an effective COVID-19
We are currently in the midst of Phase 3 of human studies, which consist of large scale clinical trials on
thousands of people, some of whom will receive placebos. In addition to testing for dosage, safety and
efficacy, Phase 3 of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials tests for side-effects within a larger population.
Some countries have approved the limited emergency use of vaccines before the result of Phase 3 are
determined. The final step for the United States, however, is to prove that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe
and effective so that it can receive Food and Drug Administration approval.
What exactly does this mean for us?
The goal of several United States federal agencies including the Department of Health and Human
Services, as well at the Food and Drug Administration, is to deliver at least 300 million safe, effective
COVID-19 vaccine doses by January 2021. This vaccine will first be distributed to our most at-risk
populations, including residents of nursing homes. The next step is to inoculate enough people so that
immunity begins to spread throughout communities.
When a proven vaccine is developed, it must reach enough people to have the desired effect. So that we
can vaccinate as many people as we can as quickly as possible to prevent the continued spread of the
coronavirus, the United States has allocated billions of dollars for COVID-19 vaccine mass production.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see people milling about as we once did and to actually be able to see the
smiles on their faces again? All that and more may become a reality with the development of a proven
vaccine and its effective distribution.
Riverside Clinical Research, an award-winning clinical trial setting and medical research trend-setter, is
currently working on COVID-19 research. If you are interested in joining the fight against COVID-19, feel
free to learn more or start the process to become a clinical trial volunteer.
For more information about the clinical trials at Riverside Clinical Research, interested parties can access
the patient portal at riversideclinicalresearch.com. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call the
Riverside Clinical Research professionals for more information at 386-428-7730 Monday through
Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can also email questions to
Riverside Clinical Research volunteers are paid for their time, there are no costs for the medical
procedures or treatments provided at Riverside Clinical Research and there is no insurance necessary to
participate in Riverside Clinical Research trials.
Riverside Clinical Research, working tirelessly today to enhance lives through improved medical
outcomes tomorrow, is conveniently located at 1410 S. Ridgewood Avenue in Edgewater.