COVID-19 trial underway at Emory shows great results in battling virus, moves to next phase

ATLANTA — Doctors in Atlanta are playing a major role in testing a potential COVID-19 vaccine. And Tuesday, they published encouraging results.

Vaccines have typically taken about 10 years or so to develop, but there is hope from biotech company Moderna that it can finish a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year.

Its vaccine candidate is onto a new phase in clinical trials, and Channel 2′s Matt Johnson learned that doctors are encouraged by what they’re finding.

Emory University is part of the clinical trial for the vaccine.

“This is as far as a vaccine goes — this is extremely speedy timeline,” Dr. Nadine Rouphael with Emory’s vaccine center said.


Rouphael is one of the Emory doctors who published phase 1 results from the Moderna vaccine human trials on Tuesday. The results focus on how the vaccine candidate performed with the first 45 people tested at Emory hospitals starting in mid-March.

“It had shown that the vaccine was well tolerated. It has also shown that the vaccine is able to induce a good immune response,” Rouphael said.

During the trials, doctors injected volunteers with part of the coronavirus. The vaccine was administered twice over a period of four weeks.

Doctors are reporting that everyone tested developed antibodies that fight the virus.

“We were also pleasantly surprised that it did induce an immunity similar to convalescent people that recovered from the disease,” Rouphael said.

Phase 2 is already underway, which involves more volunteers. Phase 3 is set to begin at the end of the month, which involves more testing for effectiveness.

Doctors are preparing for 30,000 people to be a part of phase 3.

Volunteers will be studied at a hospital in Seattle and, also, at Emory here in Atlanta.

“It’s really important to make sure that all of us, as a community, sign up. It’s also very important to see how the vaccine would work in the most vulnerable population. And it’s mostly the elderly people at risk of complication from COVID,” Rouphael said.

The vaccine maker is hoping the results of phase 3 can be ready by Thanksgiving.