Want to volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine trial? Here’s how

ATLANTA — A new website just launched to get thousands of people to volunteer for COVID-19 vaccine trials in Georgia.

Channel 2 Anchor Jorge Estevez talked to a man who has already volunteered for the trial.

Sean Doyle, a Ph.D. and M.D. student at Emory University was a volunteer for the Ebola vaccine trials several years ago, so when he was asked to volunteer for the first phase of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trial, he didn’t hesitate.

Doyle said the benefits of preventing the spread of COVID-19 far outweigh the potential of being one of the first humans to test a vaccine for the disease -- but he didn't go into it lightly.

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“I was definitely nervous,” Dolyle said. “With the new drug treatment or new vaccine, you never know exactly what’s going to happen when you get it. But I was very excited to participate to be honest.”

Doyle said having a tool to be able to prevent transmission of the coronavirus and keep people safe and healthy is really important.

On Wednesday, a website launched by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases may make it easier to find volunteers like Doyle.

Called the COVID-19 Prevention Network, the site is a hybrid of several programs across the country, including one here in Georgia, that work on clinical trials.

The hope is the by unifying several trial networks, researchers will be one step closer to Washington's goal of developing a drug to fight COVID-19 at "warp speed."

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Dr. M.G. Finn is the chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Institute of Technology. Scientists there are also working on a COVID-19 vaccine. He said that since vaccines are given to healthy people, researchers need way more trial volunteers than with other types of drugs.

"Getting the people to actually participate in the test is often the most difficult thing," Finn said.

"There's a lot of vaccines being developed for the same condition, obviously, and so having a central place where volunteers can go I think makes a lot of sense."

The website has a lot of information about how clinical studies work and what you can expect when you volunteer. If you click "volunteer now," the website has you sign a consent form and then takes basic information from you like your weight and date of birth.

That information goes to researchers to see if you are a good candidate for their trial.

“The single most important development of science in the past 200 years is the development of vaccines,” Finn said. “It’s absolutely essential. And really the risk is very minimal.”

Doyle said he got his last dose of the trial vaccine about two-and-a-half months ago and he feels great. His only side effect was a little soreness at the injection site.