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Baptist Health talks about their partnership with Moderna Vaccine Trial


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research is conducting a late-stage, Phase 3 study on a potential COVID-19 vaccine, and is recruiting volunteers to participate.

The trial is with Biotech company Moderna, who said its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing disease.

Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research’s involvement is part of its Arkansas COVID Vaccine Initiative.

Baptist Health is the only site in the state offering this study, which seeks to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine candidate.“I think it would be a big game-changer,” President and CEO of Baptist Center for Clinical Research, Dr. Richard G Pellegrino said. “If in fact most people were vaccinated it would go a long way to ending the pandemic.”

As the United States takes on a devastating explosion of coronavirus cases, a Massachusetts- based company Morderna reported promising preliminary results from its COVID-19 vaccine trial. 

Out of 90 sites for the trial across the country, Baptist Health in Little Rock is one.“If they qualified based on their medical history, they would receive the vaccination. So half the people received the vaccination half received the placebo,” Dr. Pellegrino said. 

Dr. Pellegrino said during their trial based on the first 95 people who had COVID-19, 90 of them were in the Placebo group, meaning they didn’t get the vaccine and were 5 were in the vaccine group.

“It was a 94.5 percent effectiveness rate, which means you’re much less likely to get COVID if you got the vaccine, so that was the whole point,” Pellegrino said. 

Dr. Pellegrino said this was all done on a very short timeline and they started in August. 

“Research is a very difficult business and everything has to be exactly right and so it was difficult, it took quite an effort to get all this accomplished,” Pellegrino said.

Although this offers hope during the pandemic, Moderna released only early data from their trial, there’s still more work to be done before they know if the vaccine is really safe and effective.

“The trial is not over, the results are preliminary, they are terrific and very positive but they are based on a small number of people,” Dr. Pellegrino said.

Pellegrino said they will continue to follow people who participated in the trail for two years, for safety reasons.

He said he understands people have restrictions about getting vaccines but data supports the vaccine.

“The data we have on the vaccine right now, so far shows that it’s safe in the short run. We don’t have long term data and that it’s effective and the study is run in an unbiased way,” Dr. Pellegrino said. “I think the data is objective and it works and I would certainly take it but I understand that people have reservations and I think you just have to follow your on mind.”

Even if this vaccine gets the green light from the FDA, it will take months to reach widespread distribution. The vaccine would start with healthcare works and the more vulnerable population but Pellegrino said it could get to the general public by the middle of next year.

They are asking for more volunteers for the trial, if you are interested and would like more information, please visit and fill out the contact form.

Filling out the form does not commit you to the study, but you will be contacted to provide more information and to answer additional questions.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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