HOUSTON – The cure to COVID-19 may be here in Houston.
Researchers with the Texas Center for Drug Development are still looking for participants for several trials happening here but with volunteers starting the study this week, health leaders believe we are on track for an early 2021 vaccine.
In America: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Moderna are getting a lot of attention for having vaccine candidates almost ready to go.
“It appears safe. In the phase 1 studies, it appears safe and the most important thing I think people need to know is that the vaccine is actually not the coronavirus,” Frederic Santiago, MD, with the Texas Center for Drug Development, explained when speaking about Moderna’s vaccine.
He said the Moderna vaccine is re-programming the virus' genetic code, meaning the immune system can naturally develop antibodies.
“There are several types of antibodies that we know that can stop the virus from attaching to your cells and also another type that actually neutralizes it. So we’re looking for… Do [antibodies] actually rise and how long do they last?” Santiago said.
They're hoping for a diverse group to determine which vaccines are most effective to a large population.
“We’re looking for individuals who have high-risk exposures. We’re talking first responders, we’re talking essential workers who are working grocery stores these kinds of things, we’re talking healthcare workers and we’re talking also about anyone who lives with any of these individuals with these occupations that are high risk,” Santiago said.
He explained that anyone who fits that criteria and wishes to take part in a trial, should enroll here: https://houstonfightscovid.com/
Pharmaceutical companies are also conducting their own trials. Ventavia Research Group is also looking for participants in Houston to test drug maker’s vaccines.
Other vaccines from China and Britain's Oxford University are also entering final testing stages.
There's another Houston-area vaccine in the works coming from a collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine and UTMB. Although, they're not as far along as these other candidates.
However, that doesn’t mean anyone is out of the running since the World Health Organization and Anthony Fauci, MD have both said there will need to be more than one vaccine in order to manufacture the amount needed for everyone across the globe.