Vaccines Tested In Binghamton Near Ready For FDA Approval

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Both Moderna and Pfizer announced their COVID-19 vaccines are nearly ready to file for approval from the Food and Drug Administration this week. Studies of both vaccines show they are highly effective.

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. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Dr. Frank Eder is the principal investigator for a Binghamton clinic where both biotech companies are testing their vaccines.

Recent analyses of clinical trials for the vaccines found each of them to be 95 percent effective in preventing infection.

Eder has led several different vaccine trials over the last 20 years. He said initial results aren’t usually as positive, and never so early on.

“When you’re looking at vaccine trials, you’re looking for them to be better than 50 percent effective, so when we’re talking about in the nineties, that’s a highly effective vaccine,” he said.

But even with the progress made, the trials aren’t over just yet.

“I don’t want to say the ‘end zone,’ because we’re not at the end zone, but it got us down the field a lot further and a lot quicker than we thought,” Eder said.

Eder said his clinic will continue to follow its 600 participants for several more years, even after vaccine distribution starts. That way, researchers can assess patients’ antibody levels to decide whether, and when, a booster shot is needed.

“We don’t know what the antibody levels will be in a year or two years,” he said.

Of the 600 participants enrolled with Eder’s clinic, 450 are a part of the Moderna vaccine trial. Eder said 11 percent of those in the trial come from racially-diverse backgrounds. According to Eder, five percent of participants are Black, three percent are Latinx and three percent are Asian.

Eder said he sought to recruit participants of color because of the way COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color. Black Americans are dying of the virus at a rate nearly twice their share of the U.S. population.

The diversity of the Binghamton trial, however, is lower than that of Moderna’s participants nationally. Thirty-seven percent of the study’s population, or 11,000 participants, come from communities of color, Moderna said. That includes more than 6,000 Latinx and 3,000 Black participants.

Eder said the clinic will enroll more participants in a third COVID-19 vaccine study in the coming weeks.