NIAID creates new COVID-19 drug and vaccine trial network through Trump's Warp Speed program

Anthony Fauci speaks at the White House on April 16, 2020
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, M.D. (C-SPAN)

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is launching a new clinical trial network to seek out and add thousands of volunteers to major clinical tests for vaccines and monoclonal antibodies against the pandemic.

The so-called COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (COVPN) was borne from the merger of four existing NIAID-funded clinical trial networks: the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, based in Seattle; the HIV Prevention Trials Network, based in Durham, North Carolina; the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium, based in Atlanta; and the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, based in Los Angeles.

While continuing to push for that long-sought vaccine for HIV prevention, as well as for other infectious diseases, they will now also focus on their new COVID-19 roles.

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“Establishing a unified clinical trial network is a key element of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, which aims to deliver substantial quantities of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

“Starting this summer, this new network will leverage existing infrastructure and engage communities to secure the thousands of volunteers needed for late-stage clinical trials of promising vaccines.”

“Having a safe and effective medical countermeasure to prevent COVID-19 would enable us to not only save lives but also help end the global pandemic,” added NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, M.D.

“Centralizing our clinical research efforts into a single trials network will expand the resources and expertise needed to efficiently identify safe and effective vaccines and other prevention strategies against COVID-19.”

The network’s vaccine testing will be led by Larry Corey, M.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and Kathleen Neuzil, M.D., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The network’s monoclonal antibody clinical testing efforts will, meanwhile, be led by Myron Cohen, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Stephens, M.D., of Emory University in Atlanta.

The COVPN is part of President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, which aims to speed development of therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics against SARS-CoV-02, the virus causing COVID-19.

In a statement, the NIAID said: “The network will use a harmonized vaccine protocol developed by the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) public-private partnership. This will enable analyses of correlates of protection across multiple vaccine trials. The network is expected to operate more than 100 clinical trial sites across the United States and internationally.”

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