Tennesseans participate in COVID-19 vaccine trial as company seeks emergency approval

Moderna to file for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 7:01 PM, Nov 30, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Moderna Inc. is seeking emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to distribute its COVID-19 vaccine.

A group of Tennesseans has already taken that specific vaccine as part of a clinical trial.

"We’re in uncharted territory in terms of the timelines because we are trying to find that Goldilocks place of not too fast, because that would erode public confidence, or imply that we’re not looking at it as rigorously as we should, but also, not too slow because we have millions of Americans that remain at risk for COVID-19 and its complications,” Dr. Buddy Creech said.

Dr. Creech is the director of the vaccine research program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. They played a major role in Moderna’s trial. During it, half of the local volunteers got the COVID-19 vaccine, and the other half got the placebo.

The study found the Moderna vaccine to be 94.5% effective. "I think when we first heard the word that the Pfizer vaccine was as effective as it was, we got very excited but there was a little trepidation,” Creech said, “When we got the word that Moderna had also succeeded having a high effectiveness in the study, I think we were giddy."

Dr. Buddy Creech said people should not be concerned that the vaccine is unsafe.

"I think it’s important to recognize that we’re not cutting any corners to get these vaccines out into the public," Creech said.

If approved, vaccine distribution to select groups will start as soon as possible. "I think it’s really important just like every year you and I may not remember what brand of flu vaccine we got, we just know we’re protected from severe flu. I hope the same can be said of COVID vaccines," Creech said.

He said the research is far from over. He hopes his next studies will include how the vaccine affects children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.

They're also participating in Johnson & Johnson's clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine. They're looking for volunteers.