Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University are looking for Portland-area residents to participate in Phase 3 trials of an experimental vaccine for the coronavirus, officials said Monday.
The university is the only institution in Oregon participating in trials of this particular vaccine, developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The trial is seeking up to 30,000 volunteers nationwide.
“Oregon Health & Science University is proud to contribute to the world’s most pressing challenge right now: identifying a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for everyone,” Dr. Danny Jacobs, president of OHSU, said in a statement. “We’re asking Portland-area residents to volunteer for this trial and help bring all of us closer to stopping this devastating pandemic.”
To participate, volunteers must have either stable medical conditions or no medical issues and cannot be pregnant or have a previous diagnosis of COVID-19. Participants must live within a 90-minute drive of the OHSU campus in Southwest Portland. Those who take part will be monitored for two years, officials said.
The university is hoping to enroll a diverse cohort of participants, officials said, and the lead researcher on the project, Dr. Marcel Curlin, has been holding virtual meetings with community groups to explain the process and encourage participation.
Over the summer, OHSU was forced to cancel an unrelated coronavirus study that hoped to enroll 100,000 Oregonians after too few minorities signed up to take part.
Earlier trials of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the United Kingdom showed a “robust” immune response and only mild to moderate side effects, which included headaches, fatigue and chills, according to a research paper published in The Lancet. Last week, the company came under criticism for how it presented data from some of its European trials, according to ABC News, after some results appeared to show a higher rate of efficacy in participants who took a lower dose. A company spokesperson defended the trials, telling ABC News they were “conducted to the highest standards.”
The experimental vaccine from AstraZeneca is one of three currently in late-stage trials. On Monday, Moderna Inc., which is developing one of the other candidate vaccines, planned to ask American and European regulators to allow emergency use of its treatment to begin vaccinations as soon as next month.
Officials asked those interested in participating in the Portland-area trial to visit the vaccine study website or call 888-VAC-STDY for more information.
— Kale Williams; firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-294-4048; @sfkale