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Tens of Thousands of Volunteers are Needed to Test Experimental COVID-19 Vaccines

Jul 8, 2020 by CenTrial

Tens of thousands of volunteers are needed to test experimental COVID-19 vaccines

Tens of thousands of volunteers are needed to test the vaccines being developed for the COVID-19. A new website coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org has been launched where US residents can do just that.

There are four large vaccine studies planned for this summer and fall, and more may follow. The first vaccine to be tested was developed by the Massachusetts biotech company Moderna.  Dr. Carlos del Rio, principal investigator at the Moderna site at Emory University in Atlanta hopes to enroll a total of 750 study subjects at three Atlanta-area sites.

"This is the most complicated research study I've ever done, and we need to do it in record time," del Rio said.

Ultimately, there will be more than 100 clinical trial sites worldwide. Volunteers can fill in a quick questionnaire on the site and their information is then sent to the study site that is the closest to them. The questions include evaluations of how likely you are to become infected with COVID-19, measuring how many people you are daily in contact with, what kind of work you do, and your race. Not everyone will be accepted. People with higher risk of infection would make better test subjects.

Researchers are targeting the hardest-hit areas and recruiting for volunteers at churches, factories, and meatpacking plants where people are at high risk of infection. They are also looking for people over 65 years old, with underlying conditions such as lung disease, obesity, and hypertension.

Volunteers will receive two injections a month apart. Half will receive the test vaccine, the rest a placebo. The trial will last two years and researchers will draw blood and gather nasal swabs seven times during that period. The participants will also need to keep a weekly diary of symptoms and will have research staff phoning them to check on their health.

The only way to see if these vaccines work is to test them in people. "We need to know what works [and] what won't work," says Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, medical director of the Moderna trial at the University of Cincinnati Health.

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