UIC seek­ing more vol­un­teers of color for vac­cine study

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY BRETT CHASE, STAFF RE­PORTER bchase@sun­times.com | @Bret­tChase Brett Chase’s re­port­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment and public health is made pos­si­ble by a grant from The Chicago Com­mu­nity Trust.

Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois at Chicago re­searchers are plan­ning to con­duct an­other study of an ex­per­i­men­tal COVID-19 vac­cine as the race for an ef­fec­tive treat­ment ac­cel­er­ates.

Re­searchers plan to re­cruit as many as 1,500 vol­un­teers for a late-stage study of John­son & John­son’s coro­n­avirus vac­cine pos­si­bly in Septem­ber, said study leader Dr. Richard No­vak.

Hav­ing shown ef­fec­tive­ness in early stud­ies, the J&J vac­cine will be stud­ied in mul­ti­ple sites across the coun­try.

UIC re­cently be­gan Chicago’s first coro­n­avirus vac­cine study, test­ing a ther­apy de­vel­oped by biotech com­pany Moderna. That clin­i­cal trial aims to re­cruit about 1,000 vol­un­teers, though No­vak says re­cruit­ment of Black and Latino pa­tients is, so far, fall­ing short. Re­searchers will con­tinue to en­roll pa­tients in the Moderna study for the next two or three weeks, he said. There is no short­age of vol­un­teers over­all with 8,000 peo­ple con­tact­ing UIC about par­tic­i­pat­ing, No­vak said. The prob­lem, he said, is most of them don’t rep­re­sent high-risk pop­u­la­tions, like the el­derly or mi­nor­ity groups, vul­ner­a­ble to be­com­ing in­fected with the virus.

The teach­ing hos­pi­tal is stepping up ef­forts to try to at­tract more vol­un­teers of color for the Moderna trial, No­vak said. No­vak said it was im­por­tant to at­tract a large per­cent­age of Black and Latino vol­un­teers be­cause those pop­u­la­tions have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately in­fected with the virus. The lat­est data from City of Chicago shows in­fec­tions con­tinue to surge in Latino-ma­jor­ity West Side neigh­bor­hoods.

No­vak said in June he hoped to en­roll “a large pro­por­tion if not the ma­jor­ity” of pa­tients from Black and Latino com­mu­ni­ties. As of Thurs­day, UIC re­ported 8% of those en­rolled were Black and about 13% were Latino.

“They’re not vol­un­teer­ing as much as we’d like,” No­vak said. “We’re still re­cruit­ing in those com­mu­ni­ties.”

To vol­un­teer, call 312 355-0656 or go on­line to coro­n­avirus­pre­ven­tion­net­work.org.

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