UCLA clinic hosts COVID-19 Moderna vaccine trial, experimental vaccine 94.5 percent effective

At UCLA’s Vine Street Clinic in Los Angeles, Dr. Jesse Clark is thrilled with the results of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine trial.

“Usually in clinical research, you see a lot more failures than successes and to have a success on this level of magnitude is absolutely incredible,” says Clark.

The clinical study started nationwide in July and so far, the experimental vaccine is reportedly 94.5% effective.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: What we know so far on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine

Clark says, “Doing something at this scale, at this speed and still maintaining safety was a very difficult task but ended up working out very well.”

The vaccine and placebo have been administered to 194 patients at UCLA’S Vine Street Clinic, nationwide over 30,000. Patients received two shots, 28 days apart. 

“I feel invincible,” says Alberto Velasquez. He was one of the first to join the local study. 

He says the side effects are minor.

“I had muscular pain, the pain on my arm was stronger. Chills, but not fever. I could work out and do everything. It didn’t interfere in my daily activities at all,” says Velasquez. 

Dr. Clark says, “The important thing about an mRNA vaccine is that it does not contain any of the actual virus, so there’s no way you could get coronavirus from this vaccine. It’s biologically impossible.” 

mRNA, also known as Messenger RNA, is a new technology that triggers the immune system to generate antibodies on its own. Pfizer is also using the same technology in its clinical trials.

As someone who has treated patients with COVID-19, Dr Clark says, “To have a chance to be a part of this study and developing this vaccine is extremely gratifying and also to think we may actually be turning the page and moving into a new era where we can end this epidemic. For me, both as a physician and researcher and as a person, it's very exciting.” 

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