Press Releases

July 27, 2020

Brigham Takes on Leadership Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

For more information about participating in the COVID vaccine study, please visit this site. Please do not contact the Brigham media phone number or email to enroll in this trial. 

A vaccine candidate for preventing COVID-19 is advancing to a 30,000-participant phase 3 trial that begins today, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital will play two key roles in the trial’s next phase. The phase 3 COVE study will evaluate mRNA-1273, a vaccine candidate against COVID-19 manufactured by Moderna, Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. The study will enroll participants at locations throughout the United States, with the Brigham serving as a clinical research site as part of the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), funded by the National Institutes of Health. In addition, Lindsey Baden, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at the Brigham and an expert in vaccine development for viral diseases, will serve as co-principal investigator for the study.

“This is the first phase 3 trial that will test the effectiveness of a vaccine against COVID-19, and we’ve been working diligently across industry, academia and government to pave a path for launching this trial rapidly and safely,” said Baden. “Our goal has been to not only launch this important trial, but also to develop a rapid, high-quality process for vaccine trials that are to come.”

Baden is an expert in the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics for viral diseases that disproportionately affect high-risk patients. He is the director of the Center for Clinical Investigation at the Brigham and the director of Infectious Diseases at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In addition, he is the vaccine clinical research site leader at the Brigham of the NIAID-funded Harvard HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials Unit and the program director for the Hub and Network elements of Harvard Catalyst (CTSA Award) at Harvard Medical School.

For 20 years, the Brigham, under Baden’s leadership, has been part of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded global network of sites conducting clinical studies related to HIV vaccine development. Earlier this year, the NIH determined that several NIH-funded clinical trials networks, including the HVTN, would come together to answer important infectious disease questions related to COVID-19 under the CoVPN. The Brigham, along with clinical research study sites across the United States, became part of this network. Sites for the vaccine studies were selected through an NIH mechanism and Baden was chosen by the leadership of the CoVPN to be co-principal investigator of the upcoming mRNA phase 3 vaccine trial based upon his clinical research experience and his knowledge of COVID-19. Additional phase 3 vaccine trials are being planned by the COVPN in conjunction with pharmaceutical companies.

The COVE study is part of Operation Warp Speed (OWS), which aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 in early 2021. OWS represents a partnership among components of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA, the NIH, BARDA, and the Department of Defense. The COVE study is largely funded by the U.S. government through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The COVE study is designed to primarily evaluate the effectiveness and safety of mRNA-1273 and its ability to prevent COVID-19 illness; participants will be followed for up to two years after the second dose of the vaccine. The trial is expected to enroll 30,000 participants who will be randomized to receive either two 100 microgram (mcg) injections of mRNA-1273 or two shots of a saline placebo. Trial volunteers will receive two intramuscular injections approximately 28 days apart. The trial is blinded, so the investigators and the participants will not know who is assigned to which group.

Volunteers must provide informed consent to participate in the trial. They will be asked to provide a nasopharyngeal swab and a blood sample at an initial screening visit and additional blood samples at specified time points after each vaccination and over the two years following the second vaccination. Scientists will examine blood samples in the laboratory to detect and quantify immune responses to SARS-CoV-2.

Investigators will closely monitor participant safety.

The target population for this study are adults whose locations or circumstances put them at appreciable risk of exposure to COVID-19. The primary endpoint will be the prevention of symptomatic COVID-19 disease. Key secondary endpoints include prevention of severe COVID-19 disease (as defined by the need for hospitalization) and prevention of infection by the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2. A preliminary report on data from the phase 1 trial  of mRNA-1273 was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found evidence that the vaccine induced an anti–SARS-CoV-2 immune response in all 45 participants.

Disclosure: Dr. Betsy Nabel, the president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has been a member of the Moderna Therapeutics Board of Directors since 2015 and has a financial interest in the company. Since its inception, this personal relationship has been reviewed and approved in accordance with Mass General Brigham conflict of interest policy and procedure, including a recent review in connection with the Phase 3 Study, and has been disclosed to the NIH/NIAID.

UPDATE: July 30, 2020 
 

A STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL

Having our leaders serve on relevant boards is valuable for our organization. These interactions allow for the exchange of cutting-edge scientific expertise, support the establishment of research collaborations and foster translation of scientific and clinical innovation into products and services for the benefit of patients and the public.

Dr. Nabel joined the board of Moderna in 2015 in an individual capacity, not as an agent of the hospital. At the outset, an individual management plan was put in place in accordance with Mass General Brigham policy. When the Brigham was identified as a site for the Phase 3 study, a second management plan was implemented to ensure compliance at the individual and institutional level. These measures were taken to ensure the integrity of the trial and appropriately manage conflict. The plan specifies that Dr. Nabel would recuse herself from any matter relating to the study at the Brigham and from any decision-making role in connection with the study at Moderna.

This clinical trial is a large multi-site trial, and the Brigham is expected to be one of 90 sites involved. The clinical trial is organized and overseen by the NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). NIH manages the initial approval and oversight system, all data collection and analysis, and all other keys aspects of the trial. Dr. Nabel’s relationship with Moderna was fully disclosed to the National Institutes of Health.

For 20 years, the Brigham, under Dr. Lindsey Baden’s leadership, has been part of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), an NIH-funded global network of sites conducting clinical studies related to HIV vaccine development. Earlier this year, the NIH determined that several NIH-funded clinical trials networks, including the HVTN, would come together to answer important infectious disease questions related to COVID-19 under the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). The Brigham, along with clinical research study sites across the United States, became part of this network. Sites for the vaccine studies were selected through an NIH mechanism, and Dr. Baden was chosen by the leadership of the CoVPN to be co-principal investigator of this mRNA Phase 3 vaccine trial based upon his clinical research experience and his knowledge of COVID-19.

From the outset, it was made known that Dr. Nabel is compensated for her service on Moderna’s Board. 

The Brigham Board is confident that the management plans put into place were sufficient to effectively monitor this matter; however, they support Dr. Nabel’s decision to step down from the Moderna board, as they agree with Dr. Nabel that maintaining the confidence of the public is essential as we all work toward the common goal of defeating COVID-19.

Erin McDonough
SVP, Chief Communication Officer
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

 

STATEMENT FROM DR. BETSY NABEL, PRESIDENT OF BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL

As a physician and scientist, I have dedicated my life to the health and well-being of others. Despite the management plans that have been put in place to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine study is not compromised due to my connection with Moderna, I have come to realize that those who do not know me, or how such trials are conducted, may perceive a conflict of interest. It is critically important that the public trust the conduct and outcome of the vaccine trials, so in the best interest of the greater good, I have made the difficult decision to resign from the Moderna Board. 

 

UPDATE AUG. 7 : GET THE FACTS

The Boston Globe recently published a series of articles about the interactions that Brigham Health President Betsy Nabel, MD, has had with the pharmaceutical industry. These stories have been misleading and, in some cases, inaccurate. Click here to get the facts.