Rhode Island’s largest hospital group is recruiting volunteers to participate in national COVID-19 vaccine trials

Lifespan is working with the COVID-19 Prevention Network, created by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to help identify 300 to 400 adults (age 18 and older) for a clinical trial that Lifespan has applied for approval to begin at The Miriam Hospital.

If  Rhode Island is selected as a trial site, participants would agree to receive up to two doses of a vaccine, have their blood drawn every month or two, and be monitored for side-effects, said Dr. Karen Tashima, an infectious disease physician at The Miriam Hospital who is leading the vaccine trial.

The vaccine is not a live virus, Tashima said, so there is no risk of contracting COVID-19 through the injection. Participants “would be compensated for their time,'' she said. 

"Clinical trials are essential for identifying therapies that can prevent and treat disease,'' Tashima said in a statement, "and volunteers play a critical role when it comes to developing vaccines to rapidly respond to dangerous pandemics."

Lifespan has created a website – www.lifespan.org/covidvax that links to the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN)’s registry, where anyone interested in participating in clinical trials for a vaccine may sign up to volunteer in a local trial, if one becomes available. Lifespan also has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the registry, launched by the National Institutes of Health.

The Immunology Center at The Miriam Hospital, which is part of the Lifespan network,  has participated in major clinical trials, including drugs for HIV and hepatitis C, Lifespan said in a statement released Thursday. More recently, the statement said, the center was among one of the most active sites in the world testing the use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients.

“Lifespan’s involvement with the registry is one more way that we can make a national impact, Michael Henderson, vice president for research for Lifespan, said in a statement. “We strongly encourage those who wish to join the fight against COVID-19 to please consider volunteering for a trial and signing up through the CoVPN registry.”

-- Lynn Arditi, health reporter at The Public's Radio, can be reached at larditi@thepublicsradio.org