APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Vaccine

FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, a patient receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- At Wake Clinical Research Center of Nevada, medical professionals starting testing potential COVID-19 vaccines from biotech company Moderna.

"Patients will be receiving their vaccines and vaccines will be prepared in this building as well," a staff member said Tuesday.

"It'll probably be the end of the month to the first week of August before we start,” Dr. Michael Levin said. “We wait on Moderna to activate the site. Everyday there's things happening here."

Dr. Levin’s leading the local charge to find a viable novel coronavirus vaccine at the facility, which expects to handle about 300 to 500 patients initially.

Carmen Santiago, a Las Vegas woman in her 60s, has volunteered.

"They told me they were going to do one for the COVID-19 and I said 'OK, I'm in,'” Santiago said. “As long as I'm able to do it, because I'm up there in the age, they said, yeah, you qualify so here I am."

He said even with two buildings on site, there isn't enough room to carry out Phase 3 of the vaccine testing.

"So we're going from like 40 to, in general maybe a 1,000 or less people for Phase 2, to now Phase 3 is 30,000,” Dr. Levin said. “They don't move to Phase 3 unless it's considered safe enough based on the data they have, and unless there's some indication that it's going to be effective."

Dr. Levin added that in terms of development time for a vaccine, this project is moving at “warp speed” with the federal government also stepping in to accelerate the process.

"The federal government is supplying trailers so that we can expand our facilities to get the kind of numbers through the study in the time that we need it to occur,” Levin said. “We need the extra facilities. These will be air-conditioned trailers. It's an amazing thing to watch come together and it's a hopeful thing."

"I feel like I'm pretty healthy and I take care of myself and I believe that it's not my time to go yet,” Santiago said. “I'm here to help."

Ed Alvarado is among the first dozen to get his injection.

"I don't have kids anymore, but I have three grand kids and I told one of them the other day - he said, why are you participating in this? And I said, I'm not doing it for me. I'm doing it for you,” Alvarado said. “This is about possibly being able to identify and accomplish a vaccine result that will help people."

After an extensive exam and plenty of paperwork, Alvarado got his injection Friday. The study is partially blind with some participants receiving a placebo and some the real thing.

"Everything is very normal. I feel fine today,” he said. “No fever. No chills. None of the stuff they mentioned on the survey questions last night."

Alvarado said he will be closely monitored for up to two years depending on how his body responds.

"If there's anything I can do to participate in that or help the effort I'm more than willing to do it,” Alvarado said. “To me it's something of an obligation to citizenship and I feel very good about that."

Copyright 2020 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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