Vaccines train the immune system to recognize harmful virus particles and successfully attack and kill them, preventing potential future infection. The Moderna vaccine, called mRNA-1273, is a lab-created snippet of the genetic material of the coronavirus that prompts the immune system to fight the infection.
Participants of the new trial will be randomly assigned to receive two injections of the vaccine or a placebo in their upper arm, 28 days apart. Volunteers will be monitored for any side effects and reactions and for symptoms of COVID-19 over a period of 25 months, with six scheduled visits to the clinic and 25 phone calls.
Researchers stress that it is impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine and that they do not seek to infect participants with the virus intentionally.
Frey said it is important to continue wearing a mask and practice social distancing regardless of whether an individual has volunteered in the study.
“We don’t know if this vaccine works — that’s why we’re testing it,” she said. “The truth of the matter is — people become exposed because they let their guard down.”
Even if the vaccine works, neither the nurse administering it or the study participant will know if they received a vaccine or an empty placebo.
For people who want to help make a difference, participating in these trials is a way to help find the solution against COVID-19, said Frey.