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UI Health Care Looks For COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Participants

A person in blue gloves administers a shot into someone's arm.
National Cancer Institute
The UI Health Care COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial will combine phases two and three in the study.

University of Iowa Health Care is looking for diverse participants for its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial. Two hundred-fifty participants are needed for phase one.

UI Health Care is running the study for a possible COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in New York.

Researchers are particularly interested in participants from the Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities.

Patricia Winokur, the principal investigator for the study, said because COVID-19 has disproportionately affected minority communities, it is important they're represented in the trial.

“Anybody that might have even some type of a genetic difference, we need to study those people to make sure that this vaccine is equally effective in all types of populations," Winokur said.

Winokur said there are 32,000 people around the world participating in this potential vaccine study, but minority communities are hesitant to volunteer.

"There have been some very difficult times where we have not treated some of our underrepresented populations appropriately. They were induced to participate in trials when they weren't given really the right information and they didn't have free will to participate," Winokur said. "And I think that still hurts in the communities. They remember those instances."

Winokur recognizes those communities may still remember that mistreatment, but said the highest priority of the trial is to ensure all participants’ safety.

The first phase of the trial includes identifying ideal candidates for the vaccine and proper dosage levels. The next two phases will be combined to determine efficacy. All candidates will be compensated for time.

According to UI Health Care, the primary purpose of this vaccine is prevention of COVID-19. Although, a study from AP and NORC at the University of Chicagofound if a functional vaccine were available, many Black and Hispanic people either would not take it, or are unsure if they would. Winokur said this may be due to the lack of trust, or just access to a vaccine.

"I think when you're talking about people eventually being willing to take the vaccine, we need to make sure that we make it easy for them. And that we provide that vaccine at a location that's easy for them to get to and keep the costs either free or very low," Winokur said.

Some of the participants in the study will receive a placebo while the others will receive a SARS CoV 2 RNA vaccine.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines