MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There is a lot to still learn about COVID-19. Medical experts are working day after day to come up with treatment and prevention. On Wednesday, the president of the American Medical Association, along with researchers and physicians from University of Miami, held a virtual panel discussion to give people some insight on what they are currently studying and testing.

The topic at the forefront is the quest for a vaccine.

“There are over 100 vaccines that are in the pre-clinical stage of the investigation,” says Dr. Susan Bailey, President of the American Medical Association. “There are about half a dozen vaccines in the ‘Phase 3’ trials. Three are going on in the united states and three in other parts of the world.”

One of those phase 3 trials is for the Janssen vaccine. It’s a single dose, and the trial would give half of the participants a placebo and the other half the vaccine. The recruiting takes time before they can begin.

“It will take at least ten to twelve weeks to get to 60,000 [participants] across the world,” says Dr. Dushyantha Jayaweera, an Infectious Disease Specialist at UM. “Now, the question is we have to follow them for a certain length of time. The actual study is two years, but it won’t take two years. We believe by following them for three to four months, we will see a separation between the placebo and the study vaccine. I think March or April we may have some information.”

Not only are they looking at vaccines, but also potential long term effects of having COVID-19. Doctors are studying, what seems to be, a new inflammatory syndrome as a result of coronavirus.

“These cases were presenting with very severe symptoms of multi-organ failure,” says Dr. Laura Beauchamps, an Infectious Disease Specialist.  “They had acute heart attack or stroke and severe kidney dysfunction. They were telling us they had a history of COVID weeks or up to three months ago.”

Another area of study in prevention is a Regeneron antibody treatment.

“The main advantage of this is that it potentially would be helpful for patients who either wouldn’t respond– either they have a problem with their immune system, cancer, transplant patients– that may not necessarily be candidates for a vaccine, this would potentially offer them some benefit in protecting them,” explains Immunology Specialist Dr. Gary Kleiner.

For those who want are concerned if a vaccine will be safe when it eventually is rolled out, doctors say they are taking every precaution.

“I think one has to feel comfortable that academic centers, like University of Miami and other major universities, and the FDA has their own mandate,” says Dr. Jayaweera. “We will make sure that science will follow approval, and the patients will be monitored very carefully from people like us.”

They are actively recruiting for participants in the trial, particularly Black Americans and other minorities to reflect the community.

For more information, email Janssencovidvaccine@miami.edu or call (305) 243-0952.

Karli Barnett

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