As Opioid Deaths Climb, Human Trials Begin for Vaccine

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Sept. 15, 2021 — Opioid-related drug overdose deaths in the United States exploded to an estimated record high of 69,031 people in 2020, topping the 49,860 deaths logged in 2019, according to a new report from the CDC. Most of the deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

President Joe Biden has pledged more than $10 billion to expand access to prevention, treatment and recovery services. The money is important as people receiving treatment for opioid use disorder have a high risk for relapse, and that means a high risk for opioid overdose.

Now, researchers are studying a possible bridge to successful recovery: A vaccine that could blunt the drugs’ ability to cause harm.

The first such vaccines are now entering clinical trials, raising hopes of adding another tool to the anti-addiction armamentarium. But even if the vaccines…

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