Whitefish native Colin Fields is helping develop the coronavirus vaccine.
Fields graduated from Whitefish High School in 2001 and went on to become a family physician in Seattle. Fields explained to MTN that in fourth grade he had written down he wanted to help find a cure for HIV, and now he's one of Kaiser Permanente's HIV specialists.
In March, Fields said that he started working with Kaiser Permanente on the research for a coronavirus vaccine.
"To make sure they meet criteria to be enrolled in the study and then to monitor them after they receive the initial vaccine to make sure their side effects are being evaluated, and whether or not there are any serious side effects to the vaccine to be halting criteria for the study to proceed," said Fields. "So, my main role is to serve as a liaison, for the study itself to be enrolling patients."
Kaiser Permamente was awarded the first phase of vaccine research.
So far, Fields said that the research is going well.
"From the time that the genome was developed to the time from the time that we administered the first investigational vaccine was just 66 days and that is really, completely remarkable to have developed a vaccine and have administered it to a human being in that short period of time," said Fields.
Fields told MTN that this first phase of the study was a success and was conducted on 45 volunteers ages 18-55.
"The vaccine was fully capable of producing neutralizing antibodies and it had a very well-tolerated safety profile," said Fields.
Fields added that the vaccine works on combating the novel part of the virus which is what gives it its signature crown shape. He said that phase three is to test the vaccine on a larger group of 30,000 people.
"Does it actually change the clinical course either by protecting the people in the group that received the vaccine or mitigating the effects of the infection?" asked Fields.
He reassured that the study is done ethically and at any point if anything in the study changes or a volunteer wants to leave, they can.
As of right now, Fields does not have an estimate on when the vaccine will be ready to be released.