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Kaiser to launch Phase 3 testing of coronavirus vaccine in 1,400 California and Oregon adults

By Alyssa Pereira, SFGATE

Updated

  • FILE - A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC January 31, 2020. Photo: Eva Hambach, AFP Via Getty Images

    FILE – A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC January 31, 2020.

    FILE – A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC January 31, 2020.

    Photo: Eva Hambach, AFP Via Getty Images

Photo: Eva Hambach, AFP Via Getty Images

FILE – A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC January 31, 2020.

FILE – A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC January 31, 2020.

Photo: Eva Hambach, AFP Via Getty Images

Kaiser Permanente has joined a Phase 3 clinical trial to test a coronavirus vaccine candidate currently in production by Pfizer and BioNTech, and will seek to enroll 1,400 adults aged 18-85 in California and Oregon to join in the study, a press release from the medical organization states. The aim of the trial is to enlist 30,000 patients in 120 sites around the world to participate.

According to Kaiser’s research study database, a portion of these vaccine candidates will be administered in Northern California at the Santa Clara Medical Center and the Sacramento Medical Center. Enrollment for the trial has not yet begun.

The study will be a double-blind, where half the enrolled patients will be given the vaccine candidate, called BNT162b2, and the other half will be given a placebo. Neither the patients nor the researchers will know which dose participants have received.

“Kaiser Permanente is extremely well-positioned to address this public health emergency,” said Dr. Nicola Klein, director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland in a statement. “We have been a leader in vaccine research for more than 30 years and have participated in clinical trials for almost every vaccine that has been licensed in the United States. We know we can meaningfully contribute to helping determine whether this vaccine is effective in preventing COVID-19 disease.”

Research into the vaccine will be conducted at three Kaiser research sites on the West Coast: the Division of Research in Oakland, the Department of Research & Evaluation in Pasadena and the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

The world is currently without a reliable vaccine candidate believed to guard against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he had approved a coronavirus vaccine for widespread use, despite cautious concerns from the international medical community that the vaccine was not ready to be deployed because it had not completed testing. Putin noted that his daughter was among the first to receive the vaccine.

U.S. President Donald Trump told media later Tuesday that American health companies are entering their vaccine candidates into Phase 3 trials, and that the federal government is entering into contracts with Johnson & Johnson, Sante Fe, Moderna and others to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses to be ready to deploy as soon as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

As he told the media, “[There’s] tremendous premise in every single one of them.”

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Alyssa Pereira is a culture editor at SFGate. Email: alyssa.pereira@sfgate.com | Twitter: @alyspereira

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