UNC researchers to start enrolling children in Novavax COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

Vaccine developer receives $1.6B in Operation Warp Speed funding for COVID-19 treatment
Posted at 6:00 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 22:20:41-04

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Thursday, researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) will start enrolling adolescents in a clinical trial for Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine.

There’s a push right now for a shot for kids as young as 12 years old.

Wil Nichols, a pastor with Victorious Praise Fellowship Church of God in Christ, is taking part in the adult trial at UNC.

“I wanted to do it, and I wanted to be an example to my congregants,” Nichols told News 3.

With a passion for faith and helping others, Nichols has taken part in the clinical trial for Novavax’s shot for about two months.

“The more people that enroll, the more information and knowledge that is gained,” he said. “I'm always concerned about the issues with healthcare in the African American community, whether it's the distrust of the system or just not enough participation.”

Dr. Cindy Gay, an associate professor at the UNC School of Medicine, is the principal investigator of the trial site at UNC.

“It's really important from a really big picture perspective,” Gay said. “It's going to be a game changer for providing vaccine to adolescents in other countries who don't benefit from having the infrastructure, the funds that we have here in the United States.”

Gay said the goal is to enroll 3,000 adolescents ages 12-17 while prioritizing diversity throughout the age group in the trial.

“The Novavax vaccine is one of a few that doesn't have to be stored at these very low temperatures,” she said. “Having another vaccine like the Novavax vaccine - that only has to be refrigerated - would just vastly mean that millions of people across the globe would get a vaccine earlier.”

She encourages others to join those like Nichols to help in the fight against COVID-19.

“Me and you exist today because somebody took this medicine; somebody tried that years ago, decades ago. Now, we get to benefit from that,” Nichols said. “I want to add that to the fact that, maybe a decade from now or year from now, my study will help somebody.”

For information to see if you’re eligible to take part in UNC’s Novavax vaccine clinical trial, call 800-804-9140 or email

You can also go through the COVID-19 Prevention Network Volunteer Screening Registry. To learn more about all COVID-19 related clinical trials at UNC, click here.

Click here for our full COVID vaccination guide.