PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A Portland hospital is at the forefront of research for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration just approved a clinical trial to start by the Providence Cancer Institute in Portland. It will be one of 18 clinical trials around the country.

When the pandemic hit, some scientists said it was clear that it wasn’t going to go away any time soon. So, some got to work on a vaccine.

“We started that process March 10th. March 30th we had a package of 200 pages to go to the FDA,” Dr. Bernad Fox, PhD, the head of Providence’s Laboratory of Molecular and Tumor Immunology, said.

Researchers with Providence Medical Group said they realized things weren’t going to go away without a vaccine.

“It’s going to be critical to getting us back to a normal way of life,” Fox said.

Providence researchers developed a vaccine that mobilizes the immune system on two fronts, which may be a more effective response to fighting the virus.

Providence Medical Center in Portland to conduct human trials for COVID-19 vaccine

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Now, clinical trials are set to begin. Providence says the trials will have 36 volunteers over the age of 18. Half the group will be between 18 to 50 years old and the other half will be over 50. For the older volunteers, scientists will be using an immune booster called Interleukin 12 in addition to the “spike” vaccine.

“We’ll be able to look then at the people that are above 50, if they just get the spike vaccine, what is their immune response look like and the people that are getting L12, what is their response look like,” Fox said.

Researchers say they hope this will prove effective in fighting off COVID-19. They say more research will have to be done to see how long immunity can last. They will be looking at whether the vaccine generates antibodies and T-cells that attack the virus.

Volunteers in the trial will be given two vaccinations about 30 days apart and monitored for 60 more days with blood tests to see how their immune system is doing.

Researchers say once a vaccine is approved by the FDA, the public can feel confident that it is safe.

“When the FDA says that a vaccine is safe and effective, they should go and take the vaccine because that will be the best option that they have,” Fox said.

The trial will be happening at Providence Medical Center in Portland. Providence says it will release more information about how to volunteer once the study is open for enrollment.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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