New COVID-19 vaccine trial opens in Colorado

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — UCHealth and the University of Colorado School of Medicine are now recruiting people for a Novavax COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial.

UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is the only hospital in the state participating in the phase three clinical trial.

Dr. Jean Kutner, the chief medical officer, says the Novavax vaccine works differently than the others. It uses a spike protein made in a lab to create antibodies.

“It has shown very good response in terms of being able to create that immune response,” Kutner said.

The trial will enroll a variety of people with emphasis on people 65 and older, people with chronic illnesses and minorities.

But doctors know it could be more difficult to find volunteers this time around.

Two-thirds of the group will receive the vaccine, while one-third will receive a placebo.

FOX31 asked Kutner why someone should volunteer for this when the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are already rolling out?

“I would say two things. One, we know that it is going to take some time before everybody gets access to the existing vaccines that have the FDA emergency use authorization, and two, we need the science,” Kutner said.

Plus, this trial will allow for patients to find out if they received the placebo, or if they are offered an authorized vaccine.

“The way the trials are designed now, is if somebody who is in the trial then has an opportunity to receive a vaccine, they would go back and talk to the trial organizers to find out whether they did receive the active vaccine or the placebo,” she said.

With other vaccines in the works, Kutner knows there could be fewer volunteers moving forward, but she encourages people to consider making a contribution to science.

“The more vaccines we have, the quicker we are going to get on top of this pandemic,” Kutner said.

Eligible UCHealth patients may be contacted through the My Health Connection patient portal.

Anyone who is interested in participating can also send an email to

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