As California grapples with an increase in positive coronavirus cases, the need for a vaccine is intensifying.
That's why Dr. Eric Daar, an investigator at The Lundquist Institute, is working on a trial to test a COVID-19 vaccine provided by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
For more information, or to sign up for the trial, visit helpstopcovid.la. For a vaccine to be truly effective, researchers must include a population representing the community, Daar told Inside the Issues, including those who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, such as seniors, communities of color, and those with comorbid conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
"In order to do the study, we really need to prevent disease in these high-risk individuals. We also need to be able to show, when it's all said and done, that if it works, that it really does work within each of these groups," he explained.
For his team to achieve that goal, they are working on outreach to these different communities to reassure people how these studies are designed to optimize patient safety during the trial.
Vaccines are a traditional way of solving viral infections, Daar said, so there is a sense of urgency during a pandemic. In these trials, they are working to demonstrate "not just that it stimulates the immune system but more importantly, that it prevents people from getting sick."
Daar and his colleagues at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center are looking to enroll 500 people in the trials, which is why outreach and incentives have played a big part in getting the word out. They are working to recruit people to sign up for the trials and share why the vaccine is important.
"In Los Angeles County, where we have such a large distribution of different communities, different ethnicities, our communities of color were really important to let them know about the vaccine, let them know what we're trying to do, let them know why it's so critically important and try to engage people within those communities to inform, hopefully, gain their trust, that what we're doing is to try to help everybody and then within that, do extensive outreach, now that the study is actually open, into those communities — our Asian Pacific Islanders, our Black African American communities, our Latinx communities — and then be there to answer questions, engage their community so that they can be involved in our outreach efforts," Daar said.
For more information on the trial, visit helpstopcovid.la.
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