Last month, it was announced that through a UC Davis clinical research program, residents of Sacramento would be able participate in the trials of an experimental vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, that is currently being developed by Pfizer.


The researchers have since met their quota of subjects and are no longer seeking research participants for the vaccine study, however the university is currently accepting applicants for participation in other COVID-19-related studies, including research on clinical treatments such as Remdesivir and Sarilumab and on an experimental treatment known as ‘natural killer cell therapy’.


‘Natural killer’ or NK-cells are naturally-occurring cells that are produced by the body’s immune system and are currently used in some forms of leukemia treatment. It has been shown that they are produced in patients with COVID-19, and research is currently under way to investigate the efficacy of treating the virus with a dosage of the cells.


“They are natural to your body; they are innate,” said Seattle Infectious Disease Research Institute senior clinical trial manager Alan Lew in interview with The Daily Chronicle. “So, they play a very important role against the various pathogens. So, with the multiple additional NK-cells we’re giving into the body, that will hopefully help to cause that immune response to destroy those viruses.”


Participants can learn more about current studies and apply to participate in COVID-19-related research on the UC Davis Health Clinical Studies website.


Studies testing the Pfizer vaccine are expected to have over 30,000 participants by the end of next week, with Pfizer seeking to expand the study population to 44,000.


Pfizer have also announced that they will have analyzed the results and determined whether the vaccine appears effective in treating the virus by the end of next month.


The Pfizer vaccine is one of several promising vaccines in development for COVID-19, alongside candidates such as that of Moderna and the joint candidate by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which has recently resumed testing after the study had been temporarily placed on hold.


A vaccine candidate developed by Johnson & Johnson will be joining the aforementioned vaccine candidates in phase 3 clinical trials, the final stage before a vaccine is made available to the general public, later this month, with candidates by Inovio and Norofax anticipated in October.


“It’s fast, but that reflects a real achievement in the scientific community to be able to come together and move everything so quickly,” University of Florida biostatistics assistant professor Natalie Dean told Consumer Reports. “The way that’s been achieved has not been by cutting corners.”


At the time of writing, Sacramento County has now exceeded 20,000 recorded cases of COVID-19 and 356 recorded deaths with over 12,000 of those cases and 202 deaths localized in the city of Sacramento.