St. Jude seeking Mid-South volunteers to test potential COVID-19 vaccine

St. Jude seeking Mid-South volunteers to test potential COVID-19 vaccine

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Volunteers in the Mid-South could play a key role in the global quest for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Right now, there are nearly 120 potential COVID-19 vaccines going through different pipelines worldwide.

WMC Action News 5 learned Friday that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will help find how effective some of those vaccines are, and they need your help to make that groundbreaking work happen.

“St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will participate in Phase 3 studies for those vaccines, individual vaccines with adult volunteers for those trials. Those are likely to get started within the next month,” said Dr. James Downing, President and CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Dr. James Downing, St. Jude CEO and one of the world’s leading scientists, said his team will conduct Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials as the world races for an answer to the pandemic:

“These studies are getting started and they’re being done broadly across the US and the hope is they can be accelerated and we can see vaccines sometime in the calendar year,” said Downing.

Dr. Downing says Phase 1 of vaccine trials involves about 30 people to simply make sure the inoculations are safe.

Phase 2, with a larger group, seeks to learn if the vaccine creates antibodies and prevents infections. Phase 3 will feature 30,000 volunteers worldwide -- 500 of them in Memphis who would get either a placebo or a vaccine.

“Do those who get the vaccine get much fewer infections than those who get the control and if they do – that’s an effective vaccine,” said Downing

Downing says the campaign for vaccine volunteers begins soon.

“So there will be a drive to recruit volunteers once that gets kicked off.”

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will use its team to conduct the Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials but at locations away from the hospital campus -- which has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the pandemic away from its immune compromised patients, their parents and staff.

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