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After one week, 60 participants enrolled in Baton Rouge COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

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BATON ROUGE - Researchers are wrapping up the first week of a COVID-19 vaccine trial in the capital city. It’s part of the world’s largest study happening in the U.S.

Over 30,000 people are needed to participate across the country, with around 350 needed right here in the greater Baton Rouge area.

The principal investigator in charge of the study in Baton Rouge says the initial response from the community has been tremendous. They’re hoping to start enrolling more volunteers daily after a few dozen people for the first vaccines in Baton Rouge over the past seven days.

Doctors and nurses spent Friday evening finishing up paperwork required by the FDA after a busy first week of administering the coronavirus vaccine, which was developed by biotech company Moderna.

“We’ve enrolled about 60 participants, so we’re doing really well,” Dr. Jordan Whatley said.

600 people in total have already signed up in just a few weeks, but Whatley says they’re still looking for more people who are at high risk for catching the virus.

“Individuals in the education community, college students, individuals in the healthcare community, individuals who are at retail stores,” Whatley said while explaining the ideal participant.

Participants will receive two injections one month apart. A national computer system will be in charge of randomizing who will get the actual vaccine and who will get a saline solution.

“Then they’ll come in a month after that to assess their antibody production, and we do that with every individual. So if you’ve gotten the vaccine, we’ll see how antibody production is. If you’ve gotten the placebo, they will also look for have you gotten the COVID throughout the treatment,” Whatley said.

The vaccine was determined safe during a phase one study, showing that 45 participants developed neutralizing antibodies. Now, in phase three of the study, Meridian Research, along with the Dermatology Clinic in Baton Rouge, wants to see if it completely stops someone from getting the virus altogether.

“If 15,000 individuals get the saline, 15,000 get the vaccine. And they have, let’s pick a number, 100 cases of COVID. Then they’ll do an analysis. If it’s 50 cases in the saline, 50 cases in the vaccine they’re going to say it’s not working. If they say we have 67 cases in the saline, 33 in the vaccine, they’re going to say the vaccine is effective enough,” Whatley said.

The FDA is now reviewing the first week of data collected in Baton Rouge. If all i’s and t’s are dotted and crossed, they could ramp up their daily enrollment, which is currently averaging close to 20 new participants a day.

If you want to see if you’re eligible to apply for the trial, click here.

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