COVID Vaccine Medical Testing. When the novel coronavirus hit and created the COVID-19 global pandemic, a race to find effective treatments for the disease began. Hundreds of vaccine candidates have been put forth since then, and many have been cut down as scientists and medical experts and healthcare professionals hasten to get an effective and safe vaccine approved to stem the tide of COVID-19. Right now, there are several vaccine candidates under development around the world.


The COVID-19 pandemic has created many partnerships between public and private entities with an interest in developing treatments, including a vaccine. In the US, several federal government departments including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Energy, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the US National Institutes of Health, are collaborating with organizations in the private sector to develop a viable COVID-19 vaccine. Designated as Operation Warp Speed (OWS), this group has partnered with close to 20 bio-pharmaceutical companies in an effort to speed the development of vaccine candidates for trial. Another organization, the COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (COVPN), has been established to link clinical trial networks, so they can work together to explore and assess any viable vaccine candidates.


The vaccine candidates are subject to a testing and approval process that is divided into three parts, called phases. Many have already gone through Phase I, during which small groups of people were given the trial vaccine, as well as Phase II, during which the vaccine was given to people with specific characteristics within a window of similarity to those for whom the new vaccine is being developed. At the moment, the US government has presented three vaccine candidates for further trials under OWS; the government will provide funding for the Phase III trials, during which each vaccine will be given to thousands of individuals for assessment as to safety and effectiveness.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently advised state leaders to prepare for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one becomes available, which could be as early as October. Health officials in the state of Texas are preparing for vaccination distribution as several vaccine candidates move into the final phases of trials. The Texas Department of State Health Services is working with the CDC to prepare to distribute the vaccine in the state; available in small amounts, it will first go to healthcare professionals and other essential workers, with individuals age 65 or older and people at high risk of contracting the virus and developing COVID-19 following them.


COVID Vaccine Medical Testing. Texas is playing a major role in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. From two of five Department of Defense (DoD) locations in Texas involved in Phase III trials for evaluating one vaccine candidate to the researchers at Texas A&M Health who are steering a Phase IV clinical trial of one possible vaccine to the medical clinic in McCallen, Texas involved in yet another vaccine trial, the state is poised to contribute in a big way to curbing COVID-19 in the state and across the country.


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Written by: Erika Mehlhaff