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What We Know About The Protocols Involved In Late-Stage Coronavirus Vaccine Trials




Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) in set-up tents to triage possible COVID-19 patients outside before they enter the main Emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24, 2020 in New York City.
Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) in set-up tents to triage possible COVID-19 patients outside before they enter the main Emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24, 2020 in New York City.
Misha Friedman/Getty Images

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Four major drug companies that are in Phase 3 vaccine trials for the novel coronavirus have disclosed study protocols as an effort to increase transparency and ease concerns over safety. The Wall Street Journal took a look at what the disclosed information means in a new piece and found that researchers are enrolling a large number of participants to increase chances of infection and symptoms. But the studies only need a small number of people to get sick. 

According to experts the WSJ spoke with, needing just a small number of participants to become infected and sick is normal in studies like these. The goal of the drug companies though is to enroll more people and increase the chance of seeing symptoms as a way to speed up the timeline. They need to know the effectiveness of the vaccines. Vaccine clinical trials typically take years, but researchers want to move the process along as soon as possible.  President Donald Trump has said a vaccine could even be available by the election in early November, although some public health experts have pushed back on that claim. Today on AirTalk, Larry talks with WSJ healthcare reporter Jared Hopkins and one of our go-to infectious disease specialists about the protocols. Do you have questions? Call 866-893-5722.

Guests:

Jared Hopkins, healthcare reporter for The Wall Street Journal covering the pharmaceutical industry, his latest piece looks at protocols for late-stage vaccine trials; he tweets @JaredSHopkins

Peter Chin-Hong, M.D., infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the UCSF Medical Center; he tweets @PCH_SF