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Clinical research group looking for COVID-19 vaccine volunteers from Grand Island

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 7:02 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - COVID-19 is still making its impact across the country, but the work toward a vaccine is well underway.

Meridian Clinical Research is seeking participants for Phase III of its COVID-19 research. In other words, the vaccine has been approved by the FDA to be tested.

They have study sites set up in eight different locations across the country. Three of those sites are in Nebraska, and one of those sites in Nebraska is in Grand Island. The trials that will be taking place in Grand Island will be done at the the Grand Island Clinic.

30,000 participants nationwide are needed to validate Phase III of the study.

“The first step has to be to enroll the 30,000 and give them the vaccination,” Meridian Vice President of Recruitment Beau Garland said. “Then they get vaccination two 24 days later, and then we can start evaluating those blood cells we are taking.”

Garland said the faster they can get the study going, the faster we can get back to normalcy

“None of us have ever seen a time like this in our lives. To look back on it and go, ‘You know what? I participated in this, I made a difference,‘” Garland said. “I know everybody wants this as quickly as possible so we can get back to normal, but we can’t do this without lots and lots of people.”

Meridian want to test the vaccine on as many people as possible, but they are focused on trying to provide the study for those who need it most. Like essential workers and those who are deemed to be high risk.

“Anybody over the age of 65 or that have underlying health conditions. Diabetes, congestive, heart failure, COPD,” Garland said. “Those people who would really benefit from the vaccine more than someone young who doesn’t necessarily have any underlying comorbidities like that.”

Garland said these studies are crucial to finding a vaccine and protecting the country from the virus.

“You name it, every medication has to go through this process. Without volunteers we don’t have cholesterol medications, we don’t have flu vaccines. The mortality and morbidity rates of all these diseases would be so much higher than they are.”

A timeline of when the potential vaccine would be accredited isn’t definite at this time. However, the faster they can act on the study, the better the chances of it happening this winter.

“It could be six months, could be a year, could be two years. We don’t know. Obviously we all hope sooner rather than later but that’s really between the pharmaceutical companies and the FDA.”

For more information on the study and to sign up, you can visit their website.

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