BALTIMORE, Md. — One of the leading candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine is being studied in Baltimore at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
UMB is still looking for several hundred volunteers to take part in the trial phase.
Researchers are looking for healthy volunteers who are at high risk of getting COVID-19, people age 18 and up, and from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
From cholera, typhoid, and malaria in the 1970s to the coronavirus in 2020, scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have spent decades researching infections, bacteria, and viruses.
University of Maryland, Baltimore president Dr. Bruce Jarrell said “for close to 50 years now, we've had a Center for Vaccine Development that has really been focused on vaccines and how you use them, to fight certain bacterial and viral infections.”
UMB is one of 100 clinical research sites taking part in phase three testing of a potential COVID-19 vaccine from the bio-tech company Moderna.
“We're now accruing people into the trial. I know we're planning on at least several hundred being entered into the trial here,” Jarrell said.
One of those volunteers for testing the potential vaccine includes the former interim and now newly appointed president of the University of Maryland Baltimore, himself.
“This is a tradition for me. I’ve been a participant in a number of vaccine trials here at UMB. You may remember the swine flu, the avian flu, the H1N1,” Jarrell said.
Dr. Jarrell believes volunteering himself for the Moderna vaccine study is part of his duty to prove research at UMB’s School of Medicine is first-rate.
“It's hard for me to assure people its top notch if I don't participate in it. So, to me, it's important for the senior leaders at UMB to participate in this, just the same as everybody else. If it's safe for you, it ought to be safe for me too,” Jarrell said.
However, Dr. Jarrell is just one person. UMB’s Center for Vaccine Development is looking for several hundred more, particularly people whose location or circumstance puts them at high-risk for COVID-19.
“We very seriously need people of certain categories, so yeah, there's an 18 to 65 group but there's also an over 65 group, and certainly people who are in the minority category, African-American or hispanics. It's very important for them to enroll too,”Jjarrell said.
Although volunteers receive an injection as part of the study, they'll have no idea whether they're getting either the vaccine or a saline placebo, and if it's even effective against COVID-19.
“I have no insurance that I’m protected, and so my practices won't change. I’ll still wear a mask. I’ll still wash my hands. I’ll still socially distance. I’ll still be very careful of avoiding groups of people. So, the fact that you enter a trial doesn't mean you let down your guard,” Jarrell said.
Volunteers will be compensated for their participation in the study.
People may qualify, even if they have underlying health conditions as people with underlying health conditions are one of the at-risk groups susceptible to COVID-19.
Anyone interested in participating in the study at UMB can fill out a clinical trials contact form here.