SEATTLE — July 8, 2020 — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has been named the coordinating center for vaccine clinical trials of the COVID-19 Prevention Network (COVPN). The COVPN is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. A team headquartered at Fred Hutch will lead operations across a network of at least five large-scale efficacy trials with over 100 clinical trial sites in the U.S. and abroad.
Dr. Larry Corey, renowned virologist and past president and director of Fred Hutch, will co-lead the COVPN’s vaccine testing pipeline with Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland. Dr. Corey is also the Principal Investigator of the NIAID-funded COVPN operations center, located at Fred Hutch, and Dr. Jim Kublin is the executive director of the operations program.
“We need multiple successful vaccines to protect the entire global population from COVID-19 and stop the spread of a virus that has killed so many people, infected many more and disrupted our way of life,” said Dr. Corey. “I’m optimistic that the extraordinary cooperation of industry, government and the scientific community, working in concert with the citizenry of our country, as well as our international partners, will allow us to conduct these trials with the highest standards of safety and scientific accuracy.”
The COVPN combines the infrastructure and expertise of four existing, NIAID-funded clinical trials networks: the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, which is based at Fred Hutch and led by Dr. Corey, the HIV Prevention Trials Network, the AIDS Clinical Trials Group and the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium.
Harmonizing clinical trial operations through the COVPN will create efficiencies and consistency in evaluating vaccine candidates, allowing the trials to move at an unprecedented speed while meeting the highest standards for safety. Building on the historical successes in engaging diverse populations to foster trust in HIV prevention studies, the COVPN will partner with communities that, due to their socio-economic status, racial identity and age, are facing the highest risk of severe infection and death from COVID disease. COVPN’s large-scale vaccine efficacy studies are expected to enroll between 10,000 to 30,000 individuals per trial, at sites in the U.S. and internationally.
“Fred Hutch’s depth of expertise in immunology and virology has led us to take an active role in responding to COVID-19, from our involvement in these vaccine efficacy studies, to research in infectious disease modeling, genomic epidemiology and immunology,” said Dr. Julie McElrath, senior vice president and director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutch and holder of the Joel D. Meyers Endowed Chair. “The team at Fred Hutch is honored to play such an important role in developing safe and effective COVID vaccines.”
The first Phase 3 efficacy trial for a COVID vaccine conducted by the COVPN is planned to begin enrollment this summer, and four more efficacy trials are expected to open in the coming months. To learn more about the COVPN and how to volunteer in a clinical trial, please visit the COVPN’s website.
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.