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Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have announced a new clinical trial that will test the ability of four experimental messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine candidates to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The trial in the United States will be at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Maryland.

In Germany — where BioNTech has its headquarters — the companies launched a similar trial with the vaccine (called BNT162) last month, dosing the first subjects in the German trial in late April.

The vaccines being studied are all part of a class called mRNA vaccines. These types of vaccines are made up of viral messenger RNA, genetic material similar to DNA that instructs cells to make new proteins.

A successful vaccine teaches the immune system to recognize microbial invaders for future encounters. Two of the study vaccines contain viral mRNA with instructions for the "spike protein." This protein is used by SARS-CoV-2 to attach to human cell surfaces and invade human cells. The other two vaccines contain viral mRNA with instructions for receptor-binding domains, regions of the spikes that help attach the virus to human cells. By including the viral instructions for the spike protein and receptor-binding domains, the vaccines could allow our bodies to recognize and destroy important viral components early.

The initial phase of the study will test safety, dosing and the number of doses needed by midsummer with 360 healthy participants. Patients will receive either 1 or 2 doses of one of the vaccines or a placebo (saline solution). Participants will be split into two age groups: 18 to 65 years old and 65 to 85 years old. Younger adults will be tested first, and when there is initial evidence of safety, older adults will be tested.

Mark J. Mulligan, M.D., is the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and the Vaccine Center at NYU Langone Health. "Vaccines have always been our most effective weapons to protect the health of the public from infectious disease threats, which is why it's so important to study these candidates closely," he said in a press release. Further phases of the trial will determine if these vaccines will be effective in the global fight against COVID-19.

Read more about the trial.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a deep dive into the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines, including the rollout process, potential side effects, supply and distribution.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and one of the physicians on the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

HD Live! Videos

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Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Health and Research Transformation at the University of Michigan, and Brian Blase, who served as a healthcare adviser to President Trump from 2017-2019 and is now president and CEO of Blase Policy Strategies.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is an overview of IDWeek, the annual meeting of leading infectious disease experts worldwide.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Inger Damon and Dr. Tom Talbot, IDWeek Chairs, for a summary of the latest data on a range of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is an overview of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference and exhibition.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with AAP's Dr. Elizabeth Murray on the key takeaways of the event.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is on what could happen this flu season as COVID-19 still rages on across the country. How can we protect ourselves, and what can we and the health care system do to prepare for and potentially prevent a twindemic?

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Nadia Eltaki, director of clinical operations at Sibley Memorial Hospital, on guidance on how to protect yourself and how a twindemic could impact the health care system.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is on loneliness and social isolation and how they can affect mental health. Plus, learn more about the survey we conducted with The Harris Poll on Americans and their use and knowledge of face masks and COVID-19.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Carla Perissinotto, a geriatrician and the associate chief for geriatrics clinical programs at UCSF, on advice on how to better care for seniors who might be more vulnerable to social isolation, and Kathy Steinberg, vice president of public release research at The Harris Poll, on the results of the HealthDay/The Harris Poll survey.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is on the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine and how the United States would need to prepare for a mass vaccination program.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Amesh Adalja from the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Kelly Moore from Vanderbilt School of Medicine and associate director for immunization education with the Immunization Action Coalition.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Our latest HD Live! discussion is about getting college students back on campus safely and the COVID-19 testing measures that could help.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Professor David Paltiel, MBA, PhD from the Yale School of Public Health and Dr. Natasha Martin, an infectious disease modeler from UC San Diego leading the #ReturnToLearn program.

Watch our in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Each week, HealthDay's Physician's Briefing division rounds up the most important COVID-19 developments in the medical field. See this week's edition below for August 3-August 7.

U.S. Cancels Blanket Warning for International Travel

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- On Thursday, the Trump administration canceled its warnings against international travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

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300,000 American Deaths Projected by December Without More Face Mask Use

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As the U.S. COVID-19 case count neared 5 million on Thursday, a new model predicted that nearly 300,000 Americans could die of COVID-19 by December if more people do not wear masks or practice better social distancing.

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Telestroke Consultations Down During COVID-19 Pandemic

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The median number of weekly consults seen through a telestroke network decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Black patients significantly less likely to present with strokes, according to a study published online Aug. 5 in Stroke.

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SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies Detected in 13.7 Percent of NYC HCPs

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Among health care providers in the New York City area, 13.7 percent have severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 antibodies, a rate similar to adults randomly tested in New York state, according to a research letter published online Aug. 6 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Moderna Charging Much More for COVID-19 Vaccine Than Others

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Moderna is charging $37 a dose for its experimental vaccine, which is far more than what other companies say they plan to charge for their vaccines, CBS News reported Wednesday. Because two doses of the vaccine are needed to immunize people from COVID-19, total costs could be $74 per person.

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COVID-19 Tied to Higher Risk of Large Vessel Occlusion Strokes

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- COVID-19 is associated with large vessel occlusion strokes, according to a study published online July 29 in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

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Scientists Call for Broader Use of Faster COVID-19 Tests

THURSDAY, Aug. 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across America, scientists on Wednesday called for widespread adoption of simpler, less accurate tests, as long as they are given often and quickly.

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Johnson & Johnson Makes $1 Billion Vaccine Deal

THURSDAY, Aug. 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. government will pay Johnson & Johnson $1 billion for 100 million doses of its vaccine if it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

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Early Use of IL-6 Inhibitors May Improve COVID-19 Outcomes

THURSDAY, Aug. 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with severe COVID-19, administration of an interleukin-6 receptor inhibitor earlier in the disease course is associated with improved outcomes, according to a study published online July 25 in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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ED Visits Decreased in Five States From January Through April 2020

THURSDAY, Aug. 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic intensified, there was a decrease in emergency department visits in five states from January through April 2020, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Seven States Join Pact to Speed COVID-19 Testing

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As the daily U.S. COVID-19 death toll averaged more than 1,000 for the ninth straight day on Tuesday, governors from seven states banded together to shorten turnaround time for COVID-19 test results.

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Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Encouraging Results

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Maryland-based Novavax said Tuesday that preliminary trials of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine were promising.

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COVID-19 Case Fatality Rate 29 Percent in Multiple Myeloma Patients

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with multiple myeloma and COVID-19, the case fatality rate is 29 percent among hospitalized patients, with increased odds of adverse outcomes among racial/ethnic minorities, according to a study published online July 30 in Blood Cancer Discovery.

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Study Looks at Optimal Strategy for Reopening Schools in U.K.

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Population-wide testing and effective contact tracing are necessary to prevent an epidemic rebound following school reopening in the United Kingdom; and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 transmission rates were low in an educational setting in Australia, according to two studies published online Aug. 3 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

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President Says Medicare Should Expand Telehealth Services

TUESDAY, Aug. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- President Donald Trump signed an order on Monday that will broaden the role of telehealth for Medicare patients, the Associated Press reported.

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Trump's Plan Limits Free Nursing Home COVID-19 Tests

TUESDAY, Aug. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The plan to give every nursing home a fast COVID-19 testing machine has a catch, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. The catch is that under the Trump administration plan, the government will not give kits to check staff and residents more than a couple of times.

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Number of Newly ID'd U.S. Patients With Cancer Dropped During COVID-19

TUESDAY, Aug. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- During the COVID-19 pandemic period, there was a significant decline in newly identified U.S. patients with six common types of cancer, according to a research letter published online Aug. 4 in JAMA Network Open.

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Burnout High Among Nonphysician Frontline Health Care Workers

TUESDAY, Aug. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- More than 40 percent of nurses on the front lines during the pandemic may be experiencing burnout, according to a research letter published online Aug. 4 in JAMA Network Open.

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Risk for Positive COVID-19 Test Up for Health Care Workers

MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Frontline health care workers have an increased risk for reporting a positive test for COVID-19, according to a study published online July 31 in The Lancet Public Health.

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Obesity Ups Risk for Intubation, Death With COVID-19 in Adults <65

MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity is associated with an increased risk for intubation or death among hospitalized adults with COVID-19, with the association observed in adults younger than 65 years but not in older adults, according to a study published online July 29 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Risk for Acute Cerebrovascular Events Low in COVID-19 Patients

MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- For hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the risk for acute cerebrovascular events is low, according to a study published online July 20 in Stroke.

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