MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - St. Jude announced Friday they’re looking for 500 adult participants in a phase three clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine. Multiple trials for vaccines and therapies are underway in Memphis right now.
St. Jude said a phase three clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine with Johnson & Johnson will take place on their campus. Participants must be adults in stable health, with a focus on enrolling those older than 60.
Participants will receive a single shot of the candidate vaccine or a placebo.
“There is an urgency to finding a vaccine because so much is at stake. At the same time, research can never have speed while compromising safety,” Dr. Aditya H. Gaur, Clinical Director, Dept. of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, said. “The opportunity to be able to open one of the vaccine trials in Memphis and be able to offer it to our county is a bonus.”
This week, Pfizer announced its two-dose vaccine is showing 90% efficacy so far. A clinical trial for that has been underway in Memphis since September.
Friday doctors at UTHSC and Regional One reported increasing interest in the Regeneron treatment trial as case counts locally start ticking up again. This is the same experimental medication President Donald Trump received when he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
It’s targeted toward those recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and their close contacts who aren’t yet sick.
“The interest has been huge, more than we anticipated,” Dr. John Jefferies, Professor and Chief of Cardiology at UTHSC, said. “This is really funneling people in the direction of what therapies are out there.”
Those coordinating the Regeneron trial said diversity participation in all research is critical given the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on the Black and Latinx communities.
“That’s one of the benefits of having the study in Memphis. We have a lot of underrepresented minorities here. And historically in research, we have not done a very good job of making sure that we research drugs and treatments in a diverse population,” Dr. Amber Thacker, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at UTHSC, said.