A new Covid-19 vaccine unit has been opened at Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. It will enroll people in clinical trials that will test the efficacy of vaccines against the novel coronavirus.
Barry Zingman, MD, professor of medicine at Einstein and clinical director, infectious diseases, at the Moses division of Montefiore Health System is the head of this unit.
The opening of the facility comes at a time when global coronavirus infections are rising sharply, with nearly 200,000 cases reported daily in the United States.
The goal of Montefiore is to ensure more than half of all trial participants are adults most affected by Covid-19 with a focus on people older than 65. Across the country, older individuals and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
According to Andrew D. Racine, M.D., Ph.D., system senior vice president and chief medical officer at Montefiore and professor of pediatrics at Einstein, “Montefiore and Einstein have a legacy of providing inclusive access to cutting edge care.”
He added: “By ensuring that historically underrepresented patients are included in COVID-19 vaccination research, this effort will help ensure the efficacy and safety of vaccines for these underrepresented patient groups.”
The new facility builds on Montefiore and Einstein’s leadership conducting Covid-19 trials and offering lifesaving clinical care to thousands of people in the community and has already started enrolling people in the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine AZD1222 trial.
Dr. Zingman is the principal investigator at Montefiore for the vaccine, which is one of 13 Covid-19 vaccines in phase III trials and the first to be evaluated at Montefiore and Einstein.
Zingman was also the principal investigator at Montefiore and Einstein for the ACTT-1 and ACTT-2 National Institutes of Health trials, which evaluated remdesivir (now FDA-approved as a treatment for people hospitalized with COVID-19) and remdesivir plus baricitinib, respectively.
He says, “Words cannot express my appreciation for the many people who worked so hard to establish the new COVID-19 vaccine unit, making sure underrepresented communities will have access to the most promising protection from Covid-19.”
The AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccine is a placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blinded trial in which two people will get the vaccine for each person who receives a placebo injection. Two injections will be given during the first 29 days.
(With inputs from The OnLook News Research Bureau)