Orlando has recently been selected to host several clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine, provided by the Orlando Immunology Center. The study will evaluate people at high risk for infection to observe how well the vaccine works as a preventative measure. Central Florida residents are already able to apply to participate in the trial and get vaccinated before the general public.
Sponsored by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, this is said to be one of the most promising vaccine studies currently available. The Orlando Immunology Center was selected to host the trials by the National Institutes of Health and the HIV Vaccine Trial Network.
Participants should have an occupation that puts them at risk, including but not limited to health care workers, emergency response personnel, grocery workers, and workers from meat-packaging plants.
Those living in densely populated regions and that are a part of communities that have seen the brunt of the pandemic are also up for participant consideration, including elderly residents, people with underlying health conditions, and members of minority groups such as African Americans, Latinx, and Native Americans.
For people looking to participate, they can expect to answer personal questions about their medical history and undergo a physical exam before determining their eligibility.
These studies are long-term, requiring 10 or more visits over the course of one to two years, with patients keeping track of how they feel in an online diary for about a week after each injection.
Participants will receive compensation for their time in the study, including for travel and other associated inconveniences.
So what happens if someone contracts the novel coronavirus while taking part in the study?
In the event that participating parties do end up with COVID-19, the study staff will either provide or direct participants to where they can receive care.
Once the trial is finished, the results will be released not only to the participants but also to their communities without any publicly-identifying information for each testee.
Among the 33 other sites in the U.S. conducting the clinical trials, the Orlando Immunology Center is the only location in Florida participating and has already started taking enrollments for this summer.
While the public awaits updates as to how these trials will play out, the CDC recommends avoiding being exposed to the virus by practicing social distancing, washing your hands well and often, and wearing a mask while in public and around people not from your household.
This article has been updated.