A drip from a syringe in front of a COVID-19 cell

A photo illustration of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State will begin clincial trials of a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Credit: Allan Carvalho via Tribune News Service

The Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State is looking for college students, teachers, first responders and other groups of people at risk for exposure for a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The medical center will be one site of many to vaccinate a total of 30,000 people in a clinical trial, according to a press release. About 500 adults will participate in the trial at the medical center.

“We’re thrilled that Ohio State can bring this COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial to central Ohio,” Dr. Rama Mallampalli, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, said in the release. “Our hospitals and researchers are uniquely qualified to conduct these trials with the aim of saving lives in our community and beyond.”

The vaccine was co-developed by the University of Oxford and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

An early-stage clinical trial in the United Kingdom saw results showing the experimental vaccine is safe and prompts a strong immune response, producing both antibodies and T-cells, which seek out and fight COVID-19 infected cells, according to the release.

Study participants will receive either the experimental vaccine or a placebo, have blood samples drawn and follow up with medical experts over two years, the release states.

Mallampalli said results for this and other clinical trials conducted through the COVID-19 Prevention Network, created by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, are crucial in getting a COVID-19 vaccine to market.

“Time is of the essence to develop a vaccine and/or drugs that can halt the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and reduce the serious health effects and deaths caused by COVID-19,” Dr. Susan Koletar, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the medical center and principal investigator of the study, said in the release. 

“This requires an unprecedented amount of collaboration. Our top-notch and well-established infectious diseases staff works hard with pulmonologists, epidemiologists, other medical experts and the community to find ways to effectively treat and prevent this widespread disease,” Koletar said. “This is just one of many critical COVID-19 clinical trials happening at Ohio State, allowing us to treat patients at all stages of the disease.”

Those wanting to volunteer for the vaccine clinical trial can apply online here.