Volunteers still needed to test variety of COVID-19 vaccines

(AP) – Two COVID-19 vaccines might be nearing the finish line, but scientists caution it’s critical that enough people volunteer to help finish studying other candidates in the U.S. and around the world.

Moderna Inc. and competitor Pfizer Inc. recently announced preliminary results showing their vaccines appear more than 90% effective, at least for short-term protection against COVID-19.

If those early results hold up and U.S. regulators agree the shots are safe, emergency use of small, rationed supplies could start in late December. Other countries with contracts for early doses would undertake their own reviews.

But multiple vaccines will be needed to meet global demand and help end the pandemic, raising concern that studies that still need to sign up thousands of volunteers could run short if people wait for an already OK’d option instead.

“We don’t want to see that happen,” said Dr. James Cutrell, an infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Supplies aside, other COVID-19 vaccines under development may work differently in different populations and “we likely will benefit from having a menu of vaccine options,” Cutrell said.

“We still need volunteers,” stressed National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, urging Americans to sign up.

Additionally, participants in the Moderna and Pfizer studies who originally got dummy shots would almost certainly be offered the real vaccine if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows emergency use. But no one knows how long protection would last, meaning those studies also must continue to track recipients somehow.

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