COVID-19 vaccine trials start in Tucson

Vaccine trials in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - People here in Tucson could be some of the first to have a potential new vaccine for COVID-19. Phase three of the trial officially starts Monday with one location in Tucson.

“In this particular case, I think time is of the essence,” said Dr. John McGettigan, owner of Quality of Life Medical and Research Center in Tucson. “The quicker folks can get in the study, the quicker we’ll get results, and hopefully we can prevent more bad outcomes.”

The mRNA 1273 vaccine developed by Modera, Inc. is one of many vaccines for COVID-19 being tested around the world. Quality of Life Medical and Research in Tucson is one of less than a hundred locations in the US trialing the vaccine, and two in Arizona. The study is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“We are pleased to have started the Phase 3 COVE study,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO at Moderna in a written statement. “We are grateful to the efforts of so many inside and outside the company to get us to this important milestone. We are indebted to the participants and investigators who now begin the work of the COVE study itself. We look forward to this trial demonstrating the potential of our vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so that we can defeat this pandemic.”

In April 2020, up to $483 million was made available for Moderna’s candidate vaccine from HHS, which began Phase 1 trials on March 16 and received a fast-track designation from FDA.

“The data that we’ve seen …from the phase one study is really very encouraging,” said Dr. McGettigan.

Researchers said phase three is the last phase of testing for vaccines. Volunteers will be given two shots about four weeks apart and then watched for up to two years. They will not know if they were given a placebo shot or not. While bad reactions have mild, like aches and soreness where the shot was given, medical professionals said these volunteers should be recognized. The trial will watch about 30,000 volunteers across the US.

“They’re considered medical heroes. Anyone who volunteers to help with these studies, we actually coin them medical heroes,” said Dr. McGettigan.

Quality of Life hopes to start bringing in participants later this week and said nearly a thousand people are interested in helping. They are still looking for volunteers. To sign up, or for information about participating, email

You cannot participate in the study if you’re sick 72 hours before or at the screening, pregnant or breastfeeding or have a known history of a COVID-19 infections.

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