Interested in testing a COVID-19 vaccine? Austin-based research firm is looking for participants


AUSTIN (KXAN) – Based in Austin Reference research is seeking participants for Phase III clinical research trials involving a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

The company announced Wednesday that Austin had been selected as a site to test vaccines aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

“Austin is also included [as a site] because we have an increase in the number of cases and they want to go where there is an increase in the number of cases, ”said Mark Lacy, CEO of Benchmark Research.

Researchers are looking for people 18 years of age and older. Ideal study participants are very likely to be and have been exposed to COVID-19 and those at risk for serious illness. They are also looking for people in the following professions who put them in regular contact with the public:

  • Nurses and Doctors
  • Construction workers
  • Teachers
  • Retail sales staff
  • Delivery drivers
  • Other essential workers

Those at high risk, including those over 65 and those with health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and asthma, are also eligible to participate.

The company is also researching minority participation, as recent data shows COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color.

“The global effort to develop a vaccine has resulted in the need for thousands of study participants to join this historic fight,” Lacy said. “We know Austinites and Mid-Texans feel like the problem is bigger than them, and this is a perfect way to be part of the solution.”

During the trial, participants will receive compensation for their participation, which will include a specified number of visits to the facility and responding to periodic phone calls regarding the study. Many of the company’s trials typically pay up to $ 1,500. Travel costs will be reimbursed and all lab work is free. No insurance is required to participate in the trial.

Benchmark is just one of many companies across the country that are testing the vaccine and sharing the results with pharmaceutical companies, who will then develop the vaccine.

“There are 23 vaccines being tested now, if four or five of them are effective then that is fine because there will be several options,” said Professor Daniel Leahy, chair of the molecular biosciences department. from the University of Texas.

Researchers at UT’s Department of Molecular Biosciences have been instrumental in the development of an experimental vaccine against COVID-19.

READ: COVID-19 vaccine with UT links arrived quickly after years of manufacturing

While many vaccines can take four or five years, sometimes even a decade, to develop, the federal government has an accelerated schedule that could produce a vaccine by the end of the year. Experts say the vaccine is a two-shot regimen, meaning participants get one injection early and another four weeks later.

“It takes at least a month for the immune response to be properly stimulated. After the trial starts, it takes a month or two to enroll enough people, another month or two for them to get vaccinated, and then it’s up to the virus to see how it goes, ”Leahy said. . “So I would say within three months that would be the absolute earliest, that could be a signal.”

The entire study for a vaccine is recruiting 30,000 participants nationwide. Patients who enroll in the study will participate in the trial for two years. Most trials should begin registration in the last week of July.

Experts say you need hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine.

“The government actually sponsors in its Chain speed program several companies, including Moderna, Inc., for whom these latest results have just come out, saying that it is enough to make a lot of the vaccine now and store it, even if it doesn’t work. We’re going to pay for it, ”Leahy said.

Leahy said the companies would likely get emergency use clearance from the FDA and then the vaccine would first be given to “people at high risk,” including medical professionals, construction workers and others. food processing plants.

To find out more or register for clinical trials, Click here.


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