Belgian researchers move three coronavirus vaccines into Phase-3 trials
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Belgian researchers move three coronavirus vaccines into Phase-3 trials

Credit: Retha Ferguson/Wikimedia

Researchers at Ghent University Hospital (UZGent) are looking for thousands of volunteers for three coronavirus vaccines as they move into the third and final stage of development.

Researchers at the Flemish university hospital said they need 2,000 volunteers to jointly launch Phase-3 clinical trials of three separate vaccine candidates with Ghent-based Center for Vaccinology (CEVAC).

UZGent spokesperson Karlien Wouters told The Brussels Times that the three vaccines were being developed by three different companies which she nevertheless declined to identify.

Wouters said that the companies’ identities would be made public ahead of the start of the trials, but that they could not be revealed yet.

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“Since these trials are so big we decided to launch the call for volunteers a bit earlier than normal,” she said.

The head of CEVAC, Prof. Isabel Leroux-Roels, said that in order to gauge the vaccine’s effectiveness, researchers are looking for trial participants who are more likely to be at risk of catching the virus.

“We must be able to determine the degree of infection among the participants as well as the extent to which the vaccine offers [them] protection,” Leroux-Roels said, adding that the participants must, therefore, be exposed to the virus “often enough.”

The research team is seeking to begin trials and vaccinate all 2,000 participants by mid-November as one of at least five other ongoing clinical trials in Belgium enters the final sprint.

Other trials are currently ongoing in Liège University Hospital as well as in Antwerp, where Belgian firm Janssen Pharmaceutica is testing a coronavirus vaccine candidate.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times