During the next two months, vaccine makers hope to recruit 60,000 Americans to roll up their sleeves to test the two vaccines, one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, a German company, and the other by biotech startup Moderna. While small tests earlier this year showed the preventives were safe and led to participants developing antibodies against the virus, the final phase 3 testing is designed to prove whether the vaccine reduces the risk of infection.
Amid a pandemic that in the U.S. has caused roughly 5 million infections and nearly 160,000 deaths while decimating the economy, the vaccine trials have drawn far more interest than is typical for a clinical trial, organizers said.
Also, the test sites pay volunteers as much as $2,000 for completing the two-year study.
“We have no shortage of volunteers and we have thousands of people interested in participating,” said Dr. Ella Grach, CEO of M3-Wake Research of Raleigh, North Carolina, which is conducting vaccine trials at six sites.
People 18 and older are eligible to participate in the trials, and Moderna and Pfizer are pushing to include high-risk individuals such as health workers, the elderly and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma. Organizers are also seeking to enroll Blacks and Hispanics, groups hit hard by the virus.