ST. LOUIS – The historic effort to find a coronavirus vaccine comes to St. Louis.
Both the St. Louis University (SLU) Center Vaccine Development and the Washington University School of Medicine are looking for thousands of volunteers for Phase 3 efficacy trials for potential vaccines.
This is the last phase before FDA approval.
“These are the trials that will tell us whether or not the vaccine actually works or does not work,” said Dr. Sharon Frey, clinical director of SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development and principal investigator of the trial at SLU.
The trials will involve at least two of five vaccines on the verge of making it this far: through initial vaccine development and the first two phases of smaller group clinical trials.
The Phase 3 efficacy trials will study tens of thousands of people across the country.
St. Louis researchers are looking for about 3,000 volunteers from this area who have not already tested positive for COVID-19.
They must be at least 18 but there’s no upper age limit. Those over age 65 are encouraged to participate.
Volunteers would not be exposed to COVID-19 as part of the trials, researchers said.
They’d get either an actual dose of vaccine or a placebo.
“The studies are not going to expose anybody to the virus,” said Dr. Rachel Presti, director of Washington University’s Infectious Disease Clinical Research Unit. “We’re just going to see if getting the vaccine protects you from getting infected more than getting a placebo or saline injection. We want to see if it protects people from getting infected. We also want to see if it protects people from getting really, really, sick… People are afraid to touch each other and hug each other and do the things they normally do. Really, we’re thinking might be our best shot to getting past that.”
Phase 3 trials are expected to begin in the US next month. There’s still hope for having a safe, effective, vaccine by the end of the year.
“This is an opportunity for St. Louis to be in the forefront of making history with these vaccine studies. It is everybody’s chance to help make a difference,” Dr. Frey said.
For more information about vaccine trials at Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development, please visit http://vaccine.slu.edu or call 314-977-6333 or 1-866-410-6333; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Washington University School of Medicine at 314-454-0058 or by email at Idcru@wustl.edu.
You can also check www.CoronavirusPreventionNetwork.org.