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IU School of Medicine seeks volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine trial

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Posted at 9:06 AM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 12:57:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana University School of Medicine is looking for volunteers after it was selected as a site for a COVID-19 vaccine trial.

The IU School of Medicine is the only site in Indiana included in the study of a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by drug company AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University, according to a news release.

Researchers at 81 sites around the country plan to enroll 30,000 participants in the study involving the drug AZD1222, which is one of four vaccines in Phase III testing in the United States.

The Phase III trial is the last required stage before a potential vaccine can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for widespread public use.

Dr. Cynthia Brown, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the IU School of Medicine, will lead the study in Indianapolis. She is looking to enroll about 1,500 volunteers over eight weeks when the site is activated in mid-September at IU Health University Hospital.

To be eligible to participate, volunteers must be over the age of 18, have never tested positive for COVID-19 and be at increased risk for contracting the coronavirus. Those include as people who work in a school, store, warehouse or health care system.

People from across Indiana are invited to participate, but volunteers will need to travel to Indianapolis to receive two doses of either the vaccine or placebo and attend follow-up visits.

"Our research team has developed thoughtful partnerships through the years with minority groups across Indianapolis, which we plan to engage as we begin the enrollment process," Brown said. "Nearly 40% of the city's population is made up of Black, Hispanic or Asian people, and we know how important it is to include participants from as many backgrounds as possible as we work to determine the best preventative treatment for this terrible pandemic."

Scientists at Oxford University in England began developing AZD1222 in January. Early studies showed the vaccine produced T cells — white blood cells that attack coronavirus-infected cells — within 14 days and antibodies that neutralize the coronavirus within 28 days.

"Throughout this pandemic, our doctors and researchers have been on the front lines, working to treat those suffering from COVID-19 and investigating ways to stop its spread," said Dr. Jay L. Hess, dean of IU School of Medicine and IU's executive vice president for university clinical affairs. "Never has that work been more important, and our leadership continues with this crucial study taking place right here in Indianapolis. The Hoosiers who participate will have the chance to be a part of a study that, if successful, could help scientists turn a corner on combating this disease."

Click here to learn how to be a volunteer in the study.