UW-Madison Could Play A Key Role In Developing A COVID-19 Vaccine

Sep 4, 2020

Ever since COVID-19 was discovered and started spreading, scientists around the world have not only been trying to learn all about it and treatments for it but also how to quickly develop a vaccine for it.

In this worldwide effort, the company AstraZeneca has now started a large-scale human trial of its coronavirus vaccine in the United States, with hopes to enroll up to thirty thousand adults.

Here in Wisconsin, the UW Health University Hospital in Madison is looking to enroll sixteen hundred to two thousand volunteers in this phase three portion of the coronavirus vaccine trial. 

The AstraZeneca shot was invented by researchers at the University of Oxford and appears to be one of the most promising trials among the many vaccine efforts currently underway.

William Hartman is an assistant professor of anesthesiology at UW Health and UW School of Medicine and Public Health and is leading the coronavirus vaccine trail in Madison.

“We go from a thousand or so patients that are examined in phase two and expand that to a huge population, in this case, it will be thirty thousand people worldwide,” he said. “We should get enough statistical significance that we can say, ‘if we see a decrease in COVID-19 infection, the reason we see that is because of the vaccine’.”

Some have raised concerns that this vaccine is being developed too quickly, as a normal vaccine can take upwards of ten to fifteen years to get approved. Hartman says the massive amount of resources from almost every government in the world and every major pharmaceutical company means corners are not being cut in the accelerated timeline.  

“Yes, it’s been an accelerated time frame, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily a cause for concern. I think that’s more a testament to the quality of people that have been able to bring it to this point,” Hartman said.