UW Health and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health have been selected as one of the first clinical sites in the country to study whether an investigational vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca can prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

The study, which is recruiting participants, is a phase 3 randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial — the gold standard for measuring the efficacy of investigatory drugs, the hospital announced Monday morning, and the UW is one of 100 clinical sites around the country to participate in the trial and will enroll approximately 1,600 people over the next eight weeks at University Hospital.

“UW Health and SMPH are proud to be at the forefront of working toward identifying safe, effective solutions to this global pandemic,” says Betsy Nugent, chief clinical research officer at UW Health and SMPH, in a statement. “Our entire team has been working diligently for months to bring this important clinical trial to our state, and now Wisconsinites have an opportunity to be part of solving this crisis.”

Participants will be randomly assigned to receive two injections of either the investigational vaccine (also known AZD1222) or a placebo designed to look like the investigational vaccine but containing no active vaccine. Participants are twice as likely to receive the investigational vaccine than the placebo.

 Following the treatment, the study will last approximately two years and enrollees will periodically undergo tests to monitor their health. This includes physical examinationsmeasurements of vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate, blood tests, and COVID-19 testing.