ST. LOUIS — St. Louisans are being called on to help find a successful vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
Washington University and Saint Louis University are part of the COVID-19 Prevention Network, which was formed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to help develop vaccines and treatments against the coronavirus.
As part of that Network, Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis University Center for Vaccine Development will enroll about 3,000 participants in several different phase 3 trials over the next several months.
This will happen as different pharmaceutical companies move their treatments to phase 3, meaning they have already proven to be safe and need one more round of widespread testing before potentially going into distribution.
Globally, at least 150 vaccines are in development, but the vast majority are in the earliest stages of study, according to NBC News. Moderna is the only company based in the US ready to move to phase 3 with its vaccine candidate, aiming to begin testing by July 27.
"We need an infrastructure in place. And that's what that network is being put in place for, said Dr. Rachel Presti from Washington University School of Medicine. "So when one comes along, we can test that one. And when a second one comes along, we can test that one."
“St. Louisans will be key to the success of the vaccine trials,” Sharon Frey, MD, clinical director of SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development and principal investigator of the trial at SLU said in a press release.
The researchers welcome anyone age 18 and up to sign up in their database. They are especially looking for participants who are likely to be exposed to the virus or who would be considered high-risk for developing severe symptoms, like those with underlying health conditions or over the age of 65.
“This is where we begin to really fight back against the scourge of COVID-19,” said Washington University lead research coordinator Michael Klebert, PhD, an instructor of medicine in that press release. “The collaboration of two world-class medical schools with the support of volunteers from the St. Louis community in this effort will be a powerful combination. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
The Universities say if you are interested in enrolling, you should sign up on their websites: the Washington University Division of Infectious Diseases clinical trials site and Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development.