NIH Vaccine Testing Underway In Binghamton

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — There are currently several COVID-19 vaccine trials taking place around the world. That includes in Binghamton, where a trial has entered its third phase.

That means hundreds of volunteers from throughout the Southern Tier are undergoing testing for what may be a crucial development in the pandemic.

Nurse Carolyn Grausgruber gives volunteer Ithaca firefighter Wade Bardo, of Erin, N.Y., an injection as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Frank Eder of Meridian Clinical Research is the principal investigator of the vaccine trial in Binghamton. He has conducted several studies out of his clinic over the last two decades.

According to Eder, it usually takes years before vaccines become available to the public. However, because of the scale of the pandemic, researchers have sped up the timeline for the COVID-19 vaccine trial.

“In this day and age, kind of all bets are off as long as we can keep safety as our primary measure and make sure we are keeping our patients safe,” Eder said.

The vaccine undergoing testing in Binghamton comes from the National Institute of Health and biotech company Moderna. Eder said mass production of vaccines has already begun, although none have been approved yet.

More than 300 participants have enrolled in the study so far. It’s scheduled to last two years, but Eder said a vaccine might be ready for the public sooner.

“Ideally we’ll have a vaccine out before two years, and the only way to do that is to enroll early and look at the data carefully as we go along,” Eder said.

Researchers are looking at patients’ antibody response to the vaccine as a measure of its effectiveness. They’re also considering whether the vaccine will require a booster shot to maintain an antibody supply.

Eder said he is now looking to enroll more Black and Latinx participants, two groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19, in the study.