Omaha research clinic makes call for COVID-19 vaccine trial participants

The development of new vaccines will be critical in the continued fight against COVID-19, according to researchers.
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The development of new vaccines will be critical in the continued fight against COVID-19, according to researchers, who are now looking for thousands of unvaccinated people to participate in clinical trials.

Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are all becoming familiar names of vaccines, but there are more to come.

“If we have something that’s really good we’ll just keep running with it, but we just don’t know and since this is all novel to us, the best thing to do is to keep looking for something new,” said Dr. Brandon Essink, Medical Director, Meridian Clinical Research. “In case something doesn’t work, or maybe this one works better for the variants, or if we need to make a little tweak down the road.”

And so the push is to develop new COVID vaccines.

“If there’s one that lasts longer, if there’s one that has less side effects, if there’s say a vaccine that covers more variants, if the vaccine is better in this age group, versus this age group,” Dr. Essink said. “There’s just lots of science out there that we don’t know yet so we have to keep pushing forward with what’s out there.”

And that’s exactly what Meridian is trying to do by helping to run trials for Meticago company based in Canada working to develop a COVID vaccine. “It’s a plant-based vaccine that has a lot of promise because there’s a lot less allergy potentially to it,” said Dr. Essink.

They’re putting out the call for people across the Metro to step up and participate in the final phase of the trial. These must be people who have yet to get the COVID vaccine, and who have not been infected by the virus either.

“It’s getting more difficult obviously because a lot of people are doing a great job in getting vaccine, so the number of people out there that haven’t been exposed makes it a little tougher for the products coming up yet,” Dr. Essink said.

And as the vaccine becomes easier to get some of the incentives may be lost too, but not on 46-year-old Kevin Hughes.

“Yeah, I just had my first shot and my first visit today,” said Hughes, who’s participating in one of several trials being run by Meridian. For privacy purposes, 6 News is not revealing what trial he is involved in.

“It started off this morning, made an appointment, and went into the facility and it was pretty easy stuff,” said Hughes, choosing to forgo the sure thing, for what could be a placebo shot; a decision he made largely just to help out.

“There’s not a lot I can do,” said Hughes. “But getting a shot and telling people what does or does happen as a result of that is actually something I can do, plus they pay a little bit for your time and trouble.”

HOW TO HELP: If you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial you can find out more on Meridian’s website.

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