A vaccine for the coronavirus will be entering Phase III for clinical testing on patients this Monday, July 27.
Pharmaceutical companies developed the vaccine, and Meridian Clinical Research (MCR) is now conducting the studies nationwide to determine the safety and efficacy of the vaccine against SARS-COV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“It’s important to do these vaccine trials in order to move forward with this corona situation,” said Dr. Frank Eder, a physician investigator for MCR. “We’re never going to get past this passively. We have to actively work on getting a vaccine so we can get beyond this virus.”
Dr. Eder, a physician at the UHS on Upper Front Street in Binghamton, explained that there will be 89 sites across the country, with 30,000 patients involved in the trial. In Broome County, researchers are looking for 500-1,000 participants.
“It’s a trial looking for a vaccine that will hopefully promote immunity against the COVID-19 virus and finally get us to an end of wearing masks and being quarantined, and being able to get back to our normal life,” said Dr. Eder.
Researchers are looking particularly for high-risk people, such as patients with diabetes or high blood pressure, healthcare workers and essential workers, to provide high-risk individuals with protection upfront, according to Dr. Eder.
Dr. Eder explained that the trial study will observe patients’ response to the vaccine, including whether they develop antibody titers, if they are exposed to COVID-19 if they become less sick than someone who didn’t receive the vaccine, and what they’re symptoms are. The study will continue for a two-year time period.
“We’re trying to make sure that it’s going to work for the general population and be able to be put out for everybody in the country and the world,” said Dr. Eder.
Those who wish to participate in the study can visit the Meridian Clinical Research website.
In Broome County, the MCR locations include the UHS located at 1290 Upper Front Street, Binghamton, and the Endwell Family Physicians located at 415 Hooper Road, Endwell.
To be eligible, participants must be 18 or older. Participants will receive study-related exams, and an investigational COVID-19 vaccine or placebo at no cost. Eligible participants will receive compensation for participating and do not need health insurance to join.
As part of these studies, MCR is also seeking people who meet one of the following criteria:
• People who may be in close, regular contact with infected persons; this may include, but is not limited to essential workers, healthcare workers, first responders, manufacturing/factory workers, teachers, transit workers, etc.
• People with underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, asthma, etc.
• Healthy individuals age 18 or older with no known history of COVID-19 infection
• People age 65 or older
When a patient volunteers to be involved in the study, they give ‘informed consent,’ meaning they know beforehand what the potential risks would be as well as the benefits.
The vaccine will be administered like any typical vaccine or flu shot. Throughout the two-year study, patients will keep a list of potential symptoms they face, and blood tests to determine the development of antibodies, and if they do get sick then the patients will be tested for the coronavirus.