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A step closer to a COVID-19 vaccine: Moderna to move into phase 3 clinical trials in Miami

Some 30,000 people have volunteered for the clinical trial. Each volunteer will get two injections, 28 days apart. They're removed if infected in that time frame.

TAMPA, Fla. — We could be one step closer to finding a vaccine for the coronavirus.

A vaccine created by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna is moving into phase three of clinical trials. Vice President Mike Pence made the announcement Monday at the University of Miami. 

Clinical trials for the Moderna vaccine will be conducted at 89 different sites across the U.S., including Miami.

"I'm doing it because again, I'm a retired healthcare worker and I understand the challenges COVID-19 has caused our community, and state and the whole country," Karen Juser said.

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Juser is one of 30,000 volunteers rolling up their sleeves. They're a part of Moderna's first phase three clinical trial approved by the FDA.

"It's promising that we have moved to that. It just doesn't show us yet a really important question. Does it work?" said Dr. Jill Roberts with the University of South Florida Public Health.

That's the lingering question scientists hope phase three will answer. Each volunteer will be injected with either the experimental drug or they'll get a placebo.

"What you're obviously hoping for is, you know, people at the without look back at the placebo, will have an infection rate just about equal to the population at large. The people that got the vaccine will have a much lower infection rate. I think the important thing is to get something that's if we can get a vaccine that's like 75-percent effective and we can get it out to as many people as possible," Dr. Michael Teng said.

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Teng is with the University of South Florida Public Health; he says each volunteer will get two injections 28-days apart. If they get infected in that time frame, they're removed from the trial. 

Doctors say this is the fastest any vaccine has been created. 

"We're not skipping safety steps. We're not skipping effectiveness steps. The one thing that we're skipping is the long time so we're not going to know how long for example, the vaccine's immunity, the immunity you get from [the] vaccine can last. We just don't have that kind of time. If the vaccine only works for a year. That's still better than not having a vaccine at all," Teng said.

Doctors say they're hoping a few other vaccines will move into phase three in the next few weeks.

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