Coronavirus crusade

Austin participants needed for clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccine

Austin participants needed for clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus testing COVID-19 testing lab doctor test
Here's your chance to test a vaccine. Photo by Getty Images

A local company that conducts clinical trials for vaccines is seeking participants in the Austin area to help with the next phase of development of a COVID-19 vaccine that has already shown great promise.

Benchmark Research is seeking paid participants for a two-year study of one of the more than 20 potential COVID-19 vaccines being tested now. 

The Austin-based company is seeking people who are at risk of severe illness caused by COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and asthma. In addition, it’s recruiting people who are at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus, such as healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, and delivery drivers, as well as people who are in the vulnerable 65-and-over age group.

“The global effort to develop a vaccine has resulted in the need for thousands of study participants to join this historic fight,” Mark Lacy, chief executive officer at Benchmark Research, says in a news release. “We know that Austinites and Central Texans feel like the problem is bigger than themselves, and this is an ideal way to be a part of the solution.”

On July 14, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that the first phase of the trial for this potential COVID-19 vaccine had shown promising results in 45 healthy adults age 18 to 55 who’d each received two injections. Benchmark Research is lining up participants for the third phase of the trial, which is supposed to kick off this month and include about 30,000 people across the U.S.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna Inc. developed this vaccine candidate. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is directed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, led the Phase 1 study.

For participants in the Austin clinical trials, travel expenses will be reimbursed. All lab work will be done at no cost to the participants. No one needs to have health insurance to take part in the vaccine trial.

Besides Central Texas, Benchmark Research is carrying out the Phase 3 vaccine trial at its clinics in Fort Worth; San Angelo; New Orleans; and Sacramento, California. In the past, Benchmark Research has conducted trials of vaccines for the H1N1 swine flu virus and the Ebola virus.

“I have worked to develop therapies and treatments for many years, and this is one of the most important of our time,” Dr. William Seger, principal investigator at Benchmark Research, says in the release. “A number of diseases that were once prevalent and often deadly, such as polio, have been all but forgotten with the development of a vaccine. I can’t overstate the importance of having willing participants to further research needed to develop a viable vaccine for COVID-19.”

To sign up for Benchmark Research’s COVID-19 vaccine study, call 888-902-9605 or visit benchmarkresearch.net.