A look inside a local research facility recruiting for coronavirus vaccine trials

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BEACHWOOD, Ohio (WJW) — A small local research company is working to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rapid Medical Research of Beachwood said its leading Northeast Ohio, for an office of its size, in the amount of coronavirus vaccine trials joined.

“Four currently and then we do have two upcoming in the near future and then another projected for towards the end of the year,” said executive director Lisa Hoagland.

“I think that speaks a lot to the quality of research that we’ve had over the 23 years in business and a big part of why those pharmaceutical companies are coming to us.”

They are currently participating in COVID vaccine trials for Pfizer, Sanofi, Novavax and Moderna. While the urgent need for a vaccine has helped with recruitment efforts there are still challenges that come with participating in Operation Warp Speed, the federal government effort to accelerate development of an effective coronavirus vaccine. 

“Currently what we need are a couple hundred participants but in the next month we’ll need a couple thousand participants,” said recruitment manager Jade Svoboda. “There are going to be some very big trials coming to our area that we are definitely going to need the population to help chip in on.”

Bowling Green State University student Brandon Vorndran, 30,who is also an Air Force veteran, volunteered to participate in the Novavax coronavirus vaccine trial. He is a paid participant.

“I feel fine I haven’t noticed any difference at all,” he said.

Vorndran said he was told there was an 80 percent chance of getting a vaccine instead of a placebo. He described wanting to participate in the trial as another way to serve the country.

“I think it was just seeing the sheer numbers of cases and deaths associated with the virus once it started getting into the six digit range it kind of was a wake up call almost like, ‘Hey, time to do something,'” he said.

However Vorndran is following the news, including the global pause last week of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine trial after the illness of a patient. The trial remains paused in the U.S.

“Even if they don’t develop a vaccine at AstraZeneca they’ve shown, okay this is the way we don’t want to do it,” said Vorndran.

While some are volunteering to participate in the trials, Hoagland said there is doubt among some communities to participate. 

“We are really trying to appeal to the minority population, as everyone is aware those minority groups are being more affected by COVID,” she said. “They’re at a higher risk… and there seems to be some hesitation in participating in these trials for those groups.”

Although it could take several additional months before a vaccine is approved optimism at Rapid Medical Research remains.

“We maybe could have our hands in a little tiny piece of what could help change the world,” said Svoboda.

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