UW looking for healthy volunteers for second-generation COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

SEATTLE — The University of Washington Medicine is looking for healthy volunteers who have not yet been vaccinated against the coronavirus vaccine.

The university hopes they’ll participate in a clinical trial to develop a brand-new vaccine.

Vaccines are already being given out at Lumen Field and across the state.

These scientists now want to create a vaccine that could be even more effective than those already in circulation.

It is a race against time. As the country ramps up efforts to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible, some scientists are hoping to find a willing few who are not yet vaccinated.

They desperately need a fresh batch of healthy volunteers to test a brand-new COVID-19 vaccine.

“And there’s fewer and fewer of them,” said Dr. Anna Wald, UW Medicine. “So we’re in a hurry to recruit.”

Wald said the trials will be held in four locations, including the University of Washington.

As it happens, Seattle is no stranger to these COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Volunteer Jennifer Haller was the first person in the world to receive what we now know as the Moderna vaccine at Kaiser-Permanente.

And 13 months later, millions of people have got a COVID-19 vaccine.

“So for now, we really want to make sure that we’re only enrolling people who could wait to get one of the really effective vaccines,” said Wald.

She said the new vaccine trial combines the mRNA technology used for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines with that used for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

The ultimate goal is to produce a vaccine that’s so effective we would take it only once.

“We need a universal flu vaccine, and we definitely need a universal SARS-COVID-2 vaccine that you can take once, and it not have a booster,” Wald said. “So the idea here is that if we can make a vaccine that will work against all of the variants. And this virus actually doesn’t change nearly as much as the flu does. Then hopefully, you won’t need to be vaccinated again next year.”

The company developing this new vaccine is Gritstone Oncology, which is based in Northern California.

Researchers there are actually working on a vaccine to fight cancer. They have adapted that technology to try to make a more effective vaccine against COVID-19.