University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

UH and CWRU Announce Study of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

Phase 3 clinical trial of AZD1222 uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector

Newswise — CLEVELAND – University Hospitals (UH) and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) announced today that UH Cleveland Medical Center has been selected as a clinical trial site for the Phase 3 global study of an investigational vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, sponsored by AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/NYSE: AZN). The trial is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. UH is part of the NIAID-supported COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). UH will study AZD1222 as one of approximately 80 clinical investigational sites in the U.S. that will collectively enroll up to 30,000 participants. 

AZD1222 was co-invented by the University of Oxford and Vaccitech and licensed to AstraZeneca. It uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.

“We are pleased to be bringing our community another potential tool in our fight against the coronavirus,” said Daniel I. Simon, MD, Chief Clinical & Scientific Officer and President, UH Cleveland Medical Center and the Herman K. Hellerstein Professor of Medicine at the CWRU School of Medicine. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, UH physician-scientists and caregivers have worked tirelessly to secure a range of options for our patients related to the testing, treatment and prevention of COVID-19. In fact, UH currently has more than 130 interventional and observational clinical studies underway to gain understanding of the pathogenesis of COVID-19 as well as the impact and outcome of various therapeutic treatment options.”

The Phase 3 trial is designed as a 2:1 investigational vaccine candidate to placebo, randomized, double-blinded study to obtain safety, immune response, and efficacy data needed for regulatory review for this unique vaccine development approach. This method uses a defective virus to deliver the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which has been demonstrated in earlier human trials to generate neutralizing antibodies and cellular immune responses against the coronavirus. This vaccine platform is a non-replicating viral vector and is expected to induce durable immune response with two doses administered four weeks apart.

“UH Cleveland Medical Center is one of 12 sites in North America participating in the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), the world’s largest publicly-funded, multi-disciplinary international collaboration facilitating the development of vaccines to prevent HIV/AIDS,” explained Grace McComsey, MD, Vice President of Research and Associate Chief Scientific Officer at UH and a professor at the CWRU School of Medicine. “When the COVID-19 pandemic began, HVTN joined with other NIAID-funded clinical research networks to focus on clinical trials related to SARS-CoV-2, thus forming the CoVPN. Because of UH’s involvement in HVTN, many UH physician-scientists have extensive knowledge in vaccine research and hence were natural choices for investigating the efficacy of the potential COVID-19 vaccines. It is a great honor to be collaborating with the scientific community and helping to find solutions for combatting the coronavirus.”

The study, which aims to enroll non-pregnant adults older than 18, will be conducted at UH Cleveland Medical Center in collaboration with the CWRU School of Medicine. Jeffrey Jacobson, MD, attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, UH Cleveland Medical Center, and Professor of Medicine at CWRU School of Medicine will serve as the principal investigator. Additionally, Barbara Gripshover, MD, Medical Director of the Special Immunology Unit, UH Cleveland Medical Center, and Professor of Medicine at CWRU School of Medicine along with Leila Hojat, MD, attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, UH Cleveland Medical Center, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at CWRU School of Medicine will serve as co-investigators.

The trial’s primary endpoint will be prevention of COVID-19 illness after two doses in those who have not been infected by SARS-CoV-2 prior to immunization.

“We are pleased to participate in an additional trial of a COVID-19 vaccine, enhancing options for potential coronavirus prevention,” said Dr. Jacobson. “Recently, the U.S. FDA had paused this trial in the U.S.; however, the FDA along with the Data and Safety Monitoring Board have carefully reviewed all the data from both the COVID-19 vaccine trial and all other trials using this type of vaccine and felt it was safe to continue the trial. There are numerous strict safety procedures in place during a trial to monitor the health of participants and show that the careful oversight process is working. And because of the disproportionate occurrence of COVID-19 among people of color, as well as a greater severity of disease and higher death rate, we will aim to have solid representation from this population group included in our study.”

The trial has been approved by UH’s Institutional Review Board and is expected to start enrolling study participants next week. Those interested in participating in the study at UH should call 216-844-4444 or email to learn more.


About University Hospitals

Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located in Cleveland’s University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, a high-volume national referral center for complex cardiovascular procedures; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 physicians and employees. Advancing the Science of Health and the Art of Compassion is UH’s vision for benefitting its patients into the future, and the organization’s unwavering mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover. Follow UH on LinkedIn, Facebook @UniversityHospitals and Twitter @UHhospitals. For more information, visit


About Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is one of the country's leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 5,100 undergraduate and 6,700 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit to see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.






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