Researchers still looking for volunteers as COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial nears end

The North Alabama Research Center is still looking for a diverse group of about 50 volunteers to take part in the study before Pfizer ends the enrollment period.

Posted: Sep 10, 2020 4:06 PM
Updated: Sep 10, 2020 5:51 PM

One North Alabama group is still encouraging people to take part in medical history as it aims to hit its goal for volunteers in clinical trials of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.

At the North Alabama Research Center in Athens, clinical trials have been underway for about a month. Enrollment in the Pfizer study is set to end once 30,000 participants have begun the trail, a number it is believed will be hit soon. Still, researchers are saying they need others to step forward to take part.

“Absolutely,” David Pryor, a pharmacist at the North Alabama Research Center said, “because there’s a chance that it could be extended, if there’s not enough response in certain demographics, etcetera, then they may continue enrolling beyond what they initially projected.”

Since mid-August, the group has had nearly 250 people take part in the study to test the safety and effectiveness of Pfizer's vaccine. Pryor said it’s been a diverse group from all over the region.

“We’ve had people come from Mississippi. One gentleman drove from Jackson, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Gulf Shores, you name it, we’ve had a lot of participation." 

It’s been a busy month as the team is working six days a week and often seeing more than a dozen volunteers each day.

“They realize that pandemics, they happen every 100 years or so, thankfully, and they see an opportunity to participate in a historic occasion to try to stop this current pandemic,” Pryor explained.

With clinical trials seemingly nearing an end, Pryor said they’d like to test as many people as they can to do their part in finding a potential solution to a “terrible situation.”

Still, the goal is to have the trials draw to a close so the vaccine can be mass produced, but collecting the data is the only way to get there.

“Once we get to a certain point with that, statistically, they’ll convert it and move on to mass production,” Pryor explained.

Now, the group is looking for at least 50 volunteers between the ages of 19-85, still emphasizing the importance of having diverse participation. If you wish to take part, you are encouraged to call the center first to make sure you are eligible.

The group’s Huntsville center, Medical Affiliated Research, is also still enrolling clinical trial volunteers.

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