How can you volunteer for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine? Start with this survey

If you want to sign up to bring scientists one step closer to discovering a successful coronavirus vaccine, then now is your time.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases designed a “COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network” (COVPN) to help recruit the thousands of volunteers needed to determine which of a variety of “investigational vaccines” and antibody treatments protect people from the pathogen that has so far taken the lives of over half a million worldwide.

The first of the clinical trials to be conducted by COVPN will begin this summer and will test mRNA-1273, the vaccine candidate developed by biotechnology company Moderna, according to a news release by the National Institutes of Health.

The network is intended to conduct Phase 3 studies, meaning researchers will be able to learn if the products can actually prevent new coronavirus infections or if they help control the disease if not.

All you have to do is complete a 10-minute online survey to join the list of potential volunteers. The NIH said they are expecting 1 million to 1.5 million people to sign up, Business Insider reported.

“Having a safe and effective medical countermeasure to prevent COVID-19 would enable us to not only save lives but also help end the global pandemic,” NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, said in the release. “Centralizing our clinical research efforts into a single trials network will expand the resources and expertise needed to efficiently identify safe and effective vaccines and other prevention strategies against COVID-19.”

Requirements to participate

For starters, you must be 18 years old to participate in the trials, according to the website, and be willing to answer questions about your medical history, complete a physical exam if needed and give a blood sample for certain studies.

If the study staff determines you are eligible for participation and you decide to commit, you will be given injections or infusions that may or may not be a placebo, or a liquid with no active drugs, the website said.

You will also be required to keep track of how you feel for about a week after receiving any treatments. “Most studies require coming into the research site for 10 or more visits over 1-2 years,” according to the website.

“If you become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and become ill with COVID-19 [the disease the virus causes], the study staff will work with you to make sure you get the care that you need,” the website said.

The researchers involved in the clinical trials say if you follow social distancing guidelines, wear your face mask and mostly stay home, then your application might be rejected, CNN reported. Scientists cannot tell if a vaccine prevents infection if participants disrupt their normal routine out in society.

That’s also why recruiters are hoping to target high risk communities such as factory and meatpacking plant workers, and communities of color, the outlet said.

Dr. Richard Novak, who will be leading the Moderna trial at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is the head of the division of infectious diseases, said 40% of the participants should be over 65 years old or have underlying health conditions such as lung disease, diabetes or obesity, he told CNN.

More than 100 trial sites planned

The COVPN is a “functional unit of ‘Operation Warp Speed,’ a partnership led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to invest in and coordinate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines,” the release said.

The NIH said the network is expected to operate more than 100 clinical trial sites in the U.S. and internationally.

Vaccine testing will be led by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, according to the release,

The release does not mention if study subjects who enroll directly with COVPN will be paid to participate.

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