Nebraska-based firm looks for COVID-19 vaccine trial participants

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 8:23 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - With three COVID-19 vaccines authorized and in use in the U.S., it’s easy to feel like the research work is over.

One Nebraska research firm said the need for participation in studies is still there, and it’s growing.

Through Meridian Clinical Research, thousands of Nebraskans have already helped in the fight against COVID-19, by volunteering for clinical trials. Notably, the group helped in the research phases of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines earlier this year.

Experts said there is a misconception that the vaccine research and development needed to end the pandemic is complete.

“Right now, we want to keep looking because it is so novel,” said Brandon Essink, Medical Director for Meridian Clinical Research. “It does appear that we have good vaccines, but we don’t know everything about them so far. So maybe there is one that lasts longer, one with fewer side effects, one if you have allergies you could take it and not another.”

Right now, Meridian is working its way through a few different trial phases.

The most talked about is Phase Three, as it’s the last hurdle for these researchers and companies to potentially bring a product to market, but right now it’s also doing a few earlier Phase One and Two sessions.

To participate, for the time being, it’s narrowed to people who haven’t contracted COVID-19 or gotten a vaccine, but it’s looking for some new demographics to participate.

“A few sites are looking for pediatric subjects, as well as pregnant patients,” Essink said.

The length of those studies usually takes a year-and-a-half or two, as they monitor the ongoing effects.

For those who participate in the trials, a bulk of their work will be likely concentrated on the front end, when they are actively getting vaccines or placebos.

“We follow you with a diary, we follow you with visits,” Essink said. “Sometimes there’s blood drawn, sometimes there are nasal swabs and every trial is a little different with those requirements.”

Enrollment can be done through Meridian’s website.

Right now, it’s looking for participants at their Omaha and Norfolk locations.

Eligible participants will receive an investigational COVID-19 vaccine, free study-related care, and compensation.

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