Memphis hospitals recruiting 500 people to participate in COVID vaccine trial

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are looking for 500 volunteers to test a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Memphis will be used as a testing site for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

“There is an urgency to finding a vaccine because so much is at stake,” said Dr. Aditya H. Gaur, MD, Clinical Director, Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

So much at stake, but researchers say safety is key. 

” At the same time research can never have speed while compromising safety. So as is true trial-wide and at our site, we make every effort to follow all the protocolized measures.”

According to St. Jude, the two entities have been tasked with recruiting up to 500 volunteers to participate in the trial. Anyone 18 years of age or older can participate, but they are specifically asking for those who fall into the following categories to help:

  • People with underlying medical conditions
  • People with greater chances of exposure at their job
  • People who live or work in elder-care facilities
  • People over age 65
  • People who work in jails or prisons
  • People from racial and ethnic groups that have been impacted in greater numbers by the COVID-19 pandemic, including people who are African American/Black, Latinx, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaskan Native.

To see if you qualify to participate in the study, click here.

This trial comes after Pfizer recently conducted COVID-19 vaccine trials here. An antibody cocktail created by Biotech company Regeneron is also going through clinical trials here on those suffering from the virus. 

“Memphis is an attractive city,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist at Baptist Hospital. “It’s one of the reasons it was one of the original 120 sites for the Pfizer vaccine trial, it’s a diverse city. We have a lot of different groups of people here who can contribute to the information that we need to get.”

Threkeld said early findings from the Pfizer vaccine trials look good, but research for other possible COVID vaccines is crucial too. 

“There are nine or 10 other agents that are being looked at in late stage trials. It’s very important because we’re all about more possibilities. I mean extra choices are just fine by me,” he said.

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