UIC to start COVID-19 vaccine trial Monday

The University of Illinois at Chicago will begin clinical trials Monday on a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

UIC researchers will enroll up to 1,000 people into the trial to test the effectiveness of the vaccine, which was developed by Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna, according to a statement from university officials.

“We are looking for two things really,” Dr. Richard Novak, who is leading the study, said in the statement. “One, we want to see if people who get the vaccine have a lower chance of getting sick from the virus compared to others — this would be game-changing.

“Two, for those people who still get sick from COVID-19, we want to see if those who received the vaccine have better outcomes. For example, if people with the vaccine have a lower chance of needing to be hospitalized when they do get sick, this would also be a really positive step forward and dramatically impact public health.”

Participants will be randomly assigned to groups that will receive shots of the vaccine or a placebo, officials said. The shots will be administered in two doses over the course of four weeks.

A “handful” of participants enrolled in the study will start receiving shots Monday, with researchers planning to schedule further appointments with other volunteers, officials said. Three sites — two at UIC and one at the University of Chicago — will eventually administer shots to between 20 and 40 people per day.

People interested in volunteering for the study can sign up online or call UIC researchers at 312-355-0656.