AstraZeneca, a British drugmaker, announced on Monday that Phase 3 trials for the experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by the company have begun in the US, making it the third pharmaceutical company which has started late-stage trials for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine is developed in a joint partnership with Oxford University and has received support from the US government. Two other companies, Rivals Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTec, are already conducting Phase 3 trials and have received funds from the federal government for this purpose.
To conduct the trials, AstraZeneca will recruit up to 30,000 participants above the age of 18 years and from several ethnic, racial, and geographic backgrounds. For improved accuracy, both healthy persons and patients with stable medical conditions will be recruited, including people who are more exposed to the virus.
During the trial, participants will receive two placebo or two active doses, with a break of four weeks between them. Similar Phase 3 trials are already taking place in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa, with more being planned for Japan and Russia. The US trials were funded by a division of the National Institute Of Health.
According to a press statement provided by the director of the NIH, the institute will offer support for several Phase 3 vaccine trials with the aim to determine which versions are more effective at combating the coronavirus, as several vaccines could be needed to halt the progress of the pandemic.
The vaccine, which is being developed under the name of AZD122, blends a tamer version of a common cold virus found among chimpanzees and a COVID-19 protein, which can induce a reaction from the immune system. An initial version was created by Oxford University and then licensed by AstraZeneca.
In a recent press release, AstraZeneca mentioned that proper trials would ensure the safety of the vaccine before a commercial version will be released.