Stanford Medicine joins COVID-19 vaccine trials, now recruiting volunteers

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Stanford Medicine is now part of a Phase 3 clinical trial for a possible vaccine for COVID-19.

The vaccine is from a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

Investigator Phil Grant, M.D. says the formula relies on a disabled virus to carry instructions for creating anti-COVID proteins into the body, something like a Trojan horse. And he believes it could also have another important advantage.

"The other benefit for this is you get the body to produce a fair amount of spike protein on its own. And the early studies show you only need one shot as opposed to an initial shot and a booster," says Dr. Grant.

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The vaccine also has the advantage of not requiring specialized deep-cold refrigeration for storage, potentially making it easier to ship and distribute.

Johnson & Johnson used a similar virus technique during a recent Ebola outbreak in Africa delivering a successful vaccine. The company believes early safety data on this version is also promising.

"The same Trojan horse as you describe has been given to thousands of people, and over a thousand are already in phase 1-2," Dr. Grant points out.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado has helped organize a number of COVID-19 drug trials.

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She says the Stanford team will be working to recruit a diverse pool of volunteers, using their website, along with strong community outreach to neighborhood clinics and beyond.

"We may be going for example to nursing homes and other areas," Maldonado explains.

We will be trying to partner with our lower socioeconomic income clinics as well to see if we can recruit there because we want everybody to have access," says Dr. Maldonado.

Nearby UCSF and the San Francisco Health Department are participating in a vaccine trial with Oxford / Astrazeneca.

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And Dr. Maldonado says Stanford has been engaged in on-going talks to become a trial site for other vaccine candidates as well, potentially putting researchers and the Bay Area in the thick of the hunt for a vaccine against COVID-19.

Click here for more information on joining a Stanford trial.

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