UNC enrolling participants for Novavax COVID-19 vaccine phase III trial

Posted at 7:25 PM, Jan 13, 2021

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted North Carolina resident Gracie Howell.

“It has brought the world to its knees,” Howell said. “My world was turned inside out and upside down by COVID. I lost my job. My entire formal career is gone.”

She ended up getting a new job and came across a trial for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine at the University of North Carolina, taking part and getting her shots last September.

“As someone with excellent health, as an essential worker, I felt I had a responsibility to take part in the trial as well,” Howell said. “I had no discomfort, no pain, no fear.”

“Three vaccines would be better than two; four is better than three,” Dr. Cindy Gay, Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UNC School of Medicine, said. “We just need as many effective and safe vaccines as possible.”

Doctors in Chapel Hill are now looking for people to take part in a phase III trial to test Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine.

“What you're looking at is really, 'Is it effective?'” Gay told News 3.

Since last month, they've been enrolling folks from all around, including those from North Carolina and Virginia.

Dr. Gay told News 3 Novavax's shot is, in some ways, logistically easy to distribute.

“This does not have to be stored at very low temperatures,” she said. “This is a vaccine that would be much easier to roll out in very rural settings in the United States.”

Gay said they want diverse participation for the trial, including those over the age of 65, people from Black and Latino communities and people living with medical conditions.

“We're trying to prioritize a lot of people who are at some increased risk for acquiring COVID-19,” Gay said.

Related: Chesapeake Public Schools staff begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations

Both Gay and Howell hope many turn out for the trial to help in the fight against COVID-19.

“Each of us needs to find a way to be part of the solution to COVID-19 in some way,” Howell said.

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.