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Older patients, minorities sought to take part in COVID-19 vaccine trials

Dr. Jessica Lee with UTHealth said preliminary data on the AstraZeneca vaccine clinical trial shows promising results.

HOUSTON — Researchers developing a possible COVID-19 vaccine are searching for volunteers in Houston to take part in clinical trials.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial is underway at UTHealth.

Dr. Jessica Lee, assistant professor at UTHealth’s McGovern Medical School, said their goal is to find a vaccine that could potentially help create antibodies against the coronavirus.

She wants to make sure the vaccine is being tested in the populations it affects the most.

“I am very optimistic that what we’re doing for this AstraZeneca trial is going to be effective,” Lee said.

Researchers are searching for people who meet specific requirements to take part in this study.

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“We are looking in particular for older patients, and especially for minorities, because we know that they’re disproportionately affected by COVID and we really need them to participate in these trials so that we know that the vaccines are working for that particular high risk population,” Lee said.

Worldwide, researchers want to enroll 30,000 participants.

Lee said in the Houston area they want to sign up 250 people, and so far they’ve enrolled 36 people.

Lee said preliminary data on the AstraZeneca vaccine shows promising results.

“It shows that it actually has a very good efficacy,” Lee said. “We don’t want to say that for sure it’s working because that’s why we’re doing these trials is so that we can make sure that not only is it working but that it’s also safe.”

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to call 713-704-4137.

Feds announce COVID-19 vaccine agreement with pharmacies, drug stores

Federal health officials have reached an agreement with pharmacies across the U.S. to distribute free coronavirus vaccines after they are approved and become available to the public.

The goal eventually is to make getting a COVID-19 vaccine like getting a flu shot.

Thursday's agreement with major chain drug stores, grocery market pharmacies and other chains and networks covers about 3 in 5 pharmacies in all 50 states and U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico. It looks ahead to a time next spring when yet-to-be-approved vaccines will start to become available beyond priority groups such as health care workers and nursing home residents.