Fred Hutchinson doctor overseeing all COVID-19 vaccine trials in phase 3

VIDEO: First phase three trial for coronavirus vaccine launches

SEATTLE — On Monday, Moderna entered phase 3 of its COVID-19 clinical trial. The first dose was given in Savannah, Georgia. 

Each phase 3 trial will require 30,000 participants. Half of the patients will be given the actual dose of the vaccine, the other half will be given a placebo.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, established the new clinical trials network. Dr. Larry Corey, of Fred of Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is overseeing all of the phase three COVID-19 clinical trials.

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Dr. Corey says there will 5 clinical trials, each one will need 30,000 volunteers. For phase one they were looking for healthy adults. Now that the vaccine has been found to be safe, in phase three they need volunteers who have pre-existing conditions. If you are interested in signing up to participate in a COVID-19 clinical trial there is an online survey.  They will connect you with the closest trial, based on your zip code.

KIRO 7 asked Dr. Corey his thoughts on the phase three trials starting.

“It’s an honor, it’s a privilege. I guess I’ve been up at 5 a.m. and going to bed at midnight since the end of February,” said Dr. Corey. “For me it’s almost  like -- finally we built this program, we built this army and it’s finally starting so it’s a pleasant day.”

Dr. Corey said he talked to his friend and colleague, Dr. Anthony Fauci, yesterday and they were both eager for today.

“Realistically the vaccines are here to prevent hospitalization and disease progression so it’s really the older adults, it’s people of my generation, people who have - they call the word co-morbidities. People who have diabetes, and hypertension and lung disease and people whose occupation exposes them and exposes them at high levels. Those are the people we’re really looking for the most,” said Dr. Corey.

They’re also looking for people of all ethnicities.

"We need this trial to show the diversity of our country, not only the Caucasian,  but the Black and Hispanic and Latinas communities need to be involved in the trials. They're at high risk we need to know if these vaccines work in those high risk communities," explained Dr. Corey.

Kaiser Permanente is launching Moderna’s phase 3 in Seattle very soon. They were the first to test any COVID-19 vaccine. In late March, Jennifer Haller got the first dose. She told KIRO 7 she’s excited to see it reach phase three.

Dr. Colin Fields is a Kaiser Permanente physician and a sub investigator in the Moderna clinical trial.

"We will actually be able to see in the groups that receive the vaccination , versus the groups that received a placebo dose, what the different rates of transmission are in each of those groups. And that information will really help give us a sense if the vaccination is able to help prevent the disease."

Adults in the greater Seattle area who would like to participate in the Kaiser Permanente- Moderna phase 3 trial can join the registry at this link.

There are 5 COVID-19 vaccine trials happening in the U.S. between now and November. They will need 150,000 volunteers to participate.