Baptist Health chosen for COVID-19 treatment study

It’s a different approach to preventing COVID-19. Instead of a vaccine, researchers will use two monoclonal antibodies.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Researchers at Baptist Health have been hard at work for months now, taking steps to help end the pandemic with their contributions to Moderna’s vaccine.

On Wednesday, the clinic announced a new way they are helping. 

Dr. Richard G. Pellegrino, CEO and President of Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research, said it’s a different approach to preventing COVID-19.

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“The more tools you have to prevent this disease, the faster we will get out of this,” he said. 

Instead of a vaccine, researchers will use two monoclonal antibodies, according to Pellegrino.

“It should be effective immediately, whereas a vaccine takes some time,” he said. 

Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research has been chosen as one of the first two sites in the country to begin this study, which Pellegrino said, will start in the next few days.

“This is really the tip of the iceberg and I think people will use this, anything that’s successful in the next year or two, will be used in other ways for other diseases,” he said. 

Pellegrino said the antibodies will be injected just like a vaccine, and they are looking for 5,000 participants.

“Sixty-seven percent of the people in the study will get the drug and 33% will get the placebo. In many of the studies these are 50/50, so this is a little better,” he said.

This news comes as Moderna, the vaccine study researchers at Baptist have been working on since August, submitted their COVID-19 vaccine with 94% efficacy to the FDA on Monday.

Pellegrino said vaccines aren’t easy to make, so the more companies that make them, the faster things will go.

“If it comes to pass that we have two vaccines by the end of the year, that is a tremendous accomplishment,” he said.

If approved, Pellegrino said Moderna’s vaccine will be two injections, separated by 29 days and can be stored at -20 degrees Celsius.

“We still don’t know how long the protection lasts, that’s one thing we’ll find out over the next couple of years as we follow it,” he said. 

So while researchers at Baptist hope to continue helping the fight against COVID-19, Pellegrino said they need Arkansans help with a different battle.

“Without participants, things don’t happen,” he said.

You must be over 18 to participate in the new study.

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If you participated in the first vaccine study though, you are not eligible for this one. 

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