COVID-19 vaccine trial happening in Memphis still needs more participants

Updated: Dec. 3, 2020 at 10:27 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As the number of COVID-19 cases revs up across the country, so is the effort to fight the virus. Over the next two weeks, drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna could have their emergency application for a vaccine approved.

Moderna announced Thursday they expect to have up to 100 million doses of their vaccine available in the U.S. by the first quarter of 2021.


However, other drugmakers are still conducting clinical trials for other vaccines, including Johnson and Johnson who is currently holding a phase 3 clinical trial in Memphis.

“Because the world will need more than one effective vaccine and large doses being made to be able to quickly get the vaccine to everybody,” Dr. Aditya Gaur, director for the department of infectious disease at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, said.

Gaur says the vaccine being tested in Memphis comes with distinct advantages if approved.

First, unlike other vaccines, it doesn’t have to be kept frozen and lasts longer.

It’s also a single dose, both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses.

“The simplicity comes with its advantages,” Guar said.

But first, they need more participants. St. Jude, along with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has fallen short of the needed 500 participants from the Mid-south.

It’s a double-blind study, meaning participants may receive the actual vaccine or a placebo.

The study will last two years with multiple follow-ups with participants.

“The follow-up is looking at the response of the immune system in terms of antibodies in the blood and not only short-term response, but long-term response,” Guar said.

The clinical trial is looking for a significant number of people over the age of 60 to participate.

The deadline to sign up is Dec. 21.

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