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Michigan volunteers receive first shot in Moderna COVID-19 vaccine study

Volunteers are still being sought for phase three of the study

DETROIT – The first group of volunteers in Michigan to participate in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine study received their first shots Wednesday, Henry Ford Health System announced.

Henry Ford Health System is the only hospital in Michigan selected as a trial site for phase three of the Moderna mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) vaccine study.

“This is a historic moment,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, division chief of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System. “A vaccine is our best hope in the fight against COVID-19, and we’re glad to be a part of bringing this opportunity to the Midwest.”

The COVE vaccine study is made from a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) genetic code that tells a cell how to produce protein. Health system officials said while the protein is thought to help the body’s immune system make antibodies to fight the virus, people may still become infected even when receiving the study’s two doses.

The study’s first two phases, which included 600 participants, suggested that the vaccine is safe. The second phase showed that antibodies were produced, whereas phase three will determine whether it can protect against the virus.

According to Henry Ford, two of the first few volunteers are 24-year-old Ashley Wilson, of Taylor, and Victor McFadden, 64, of Detroit.

“Being here doing this may go down in history; it’s not the way I really wanted to do it,” McFadden said in a Henry Ford Health news release. But (I’ll do) whatever it takes to try to get this virus under control. I feel for the nurses; they are the heroes, to go to work every day and put up with this. My sister is a nurse in South Carolina; they’re troopers. I give them all the respect in the world.”

The first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine study in Michigan was administered Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Photo provided by Henry Ford Health System.
The first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine study in Michigan was administered Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Photo provided by Henry Ford Health System. (WDIV)

Henry Ford Health System is still enrolling volunteers. About 90 healthcare systems across the United States are working competitively to enroll a total of 30,000 volunteers to participate in the Moderna vaccine study. The study will close to volunteers once the 30,000 goal is reached.

Researchers are interested in recruiting:

  • Those at high risk of COVID-19 infection defined as adults whose locations or circumstances put them at greater risk of exposure to the virus responsible for COVID-19
  • Adults who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 based on the age of 65 years old or older
  • Adults who are at high risk due to pre-existing medical conditions that are stable at the time of screening

Volunteers will have a 50 percent chance of receiving the vaccine or a placebo, which is a saline solution that does contain a vaccine.

Anyone interested can visit www.henryford.com/ModernaVaccine.

Michigan enrollment sites are located at the Henry Ford Hospital Emergency Department, with a separate entrance, in Detroit, Henry Ford’s headquarters at 1 Ford Place in Midtown Detroit, and at the HAP building across from the main hospital.


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