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DEC. 3, 2020

1,500 volunteers will participate in the Oxford/AstraZeneca clinical trials in Chile

Marking the beginning of the phase III trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, the Science Minister highlighted the Chilean scientific community’s performance record and experience in planning and performing these trials.

Today, Thursday, December 3, the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBM) at Universidad de Chile’s Faculty of Medicine, in conjunction with San José Hospital, began phase III trials of vaccine AZD1222 against COVID-19. The trials aim to recruit 1,500 volunteers in Chile. The vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Laboratory, has reported to date a 70% effectiveness rate, which would be sufficient for stopping the pandemic. Furthermore, the people who received this vaccine did not have severe COVID-19 symptoms or required hospitalization.

Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation Minister Andrés Couve attended the event and highlighted the importance of participating in this crusade. “In May, the Science Ministry committed to designing and implementing 3 or 4 phase III clinical trials in Chile for the vaccine against COVID-19. We are very pleased today because the Oxford/AstraZeneca trial has begun. It will enable us to learn more about this vaccine and establish positive ties with the laboratories that develop it, thanks to the ability and experience of the clinical and university research community in Chile,” he added. 

Dr. Sergio Vargas, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the Universidad de Chile’s Faculty of Medicine who is leading the study, noted that “the main objective of this phase is to determine the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of the vaccine. Our participation in this study should fill us with pride. Our country is actively participating in the clinical trials of a vaccine that will have global repercussions.”

While the study aims to cover the entire population over 18 years old, the collaborative agreement between ICBM and San José Hospital will provide the hospital’s healthcare personnel with first access to enroll in the clinical trial.

“The pandemic has impacted health personnel greatly as they are in direct contact with the virus daily. On the one hand, we want to protect the frontline workers and, on the other, we want to contribute to knowledge generation. As a hospital, we have played a strong role in healthcare during the pandemic. Today, we also want to be part of the research,” explained Dr. Claudio Nuñez, coordinator of San José Hospital in the study.

Nicole Silva, a midwife at San José Hospital, was among the first volunteers to receive the inoculation. “As healthcare workers, we have seen the effects of this disease first hand. I have witnessed my colleagues giving their best to care for our infected patients. That is why it is important to find a definitive solution. I want to be part of this fight. I am hopeful that the vaccine will be effective and protect us all,” emphasized Nicole, encouraging healthcare workers to participate. 

Director of the North Metropolitan Health Service, Guillermo Hartwig, echoed these words, emphasizing the importance of working together. “Finding a vaccine that could revert this public health situation fills us with hope. You can be certain that we will always put our professionalism and experience at the service of research. I also want to emphasize partnerships, which are crucial in terms of combating a pandemic. Academia, the healthcare system and the private system must work together. When we join forces, we can improve the quality of life for our users,” he stated.

The enrollment period will last for a month and volunteers will be monitored for two years. “Volunteers need to know that there is a team behind the study. Safety is key throughout the process and they will have all the necessary information. There is no reason to fear this vaccine,” said María Begoña Carroza, the study’s outreach and volunteer coordinator at Universidad de Chile.

To register, volunteers must fill out the form available on the Universidad de Chile Faculty of Medicine, San José Hospital or North Metropolitan Health Service websites