Wayne State Seeks Volunteers for COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Researchers originally wanted older volunteers, but the are now opening trial to younger adults, especially those not yet eligible for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Wayne State University’s School of Medicine needs people to roll up their sleeves for research’s sake.

The school is part of a nationwide clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine made by Novavax, Inc. Phase 3 of the trial will help scientists determine whether it’s effective at preventing infection. 

“I think that this vaccine will be safe, the other vaccines are safe, and that people should take what they can get as soon as they can get it.” — Dr. Elizabeth Secord, WSU pediatrics professor

Dr. Elizabeth Secord is heading up WSU’s involvement in the trial. She says her team needs about 300 volunteers.

“Two-thirds will get the vaccine, one third will get a placebo,” she says. “We can compare rates of COVID, look at antibodies and see the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

Wayne State University
Wayne State University

At first, researchers wanted a large number of higher-risk candidates, such as people 65 and older, individuals with underlying health conditions and people of color. They can still enroll, but now that many older people are eligible to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, Wayne State is actively seeking younger volunteers for the study.

Click the player to hear Dr. Elizabeth Secord’s discuss WSU’s COVID-19 vaccine trial.

“People who are, for example, 60, 50, 40, even in their 20s who are not likely to get a vaccine for several months,” Dr. Secord says. “It would be good for them to consider entering such a trial.”

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine does not use messenger RNA. Dr. Secord says she hopes that will encourage people to join the clinical trial, though she stresses that concerns about mRNA are unfounded, noting that she has already been vaccinated.

“I think that this vaccine will be safe, the other vaccines are safe, and that people should take what they can get as soon as they can get it,” she says.

If the Novavax vaccine passes its trials, Dr. Secord says she hopes it will be approved for emergency use within six months.

Individuals interested in volunteering may email Dr. Secord for more information.

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  • Pat Batcheller is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news, traffic and weather updates during Morning Edition. He is an amateur musician.