Health officials seek volunteers for phase 3 of COVID-19 vaccine trials

Scientists around the world have been working to find an effective and safe vaccine for COVID-19, including in New Jersey.
Teams at Hackensack Meridian Health and Rutgers Medical School have been working on their own vaccines, including one physician who is also a volunteer to test a vaccine out.
“The first volunteer was on Aug. 31 and that was myself,” says Dr. Ihor Sawczuk, chief research officer at Hackensack Meridian. “I was the first person to be injected.”
News 12 New Jersey was there when Sawczuk got his first vaccine injection. This week, he got his second.
“This particular vaccine you have to have two injections,” he says. “And they’re small, so you don’t feel pain.”
The national trial that Sawczuk is helping to run will involve 30,000 people nationwide at 90 sites across the country. They are hoping to enroll 300 people in the Hackensack University Medical Center testing site.
“I’m very proud of our organization and proud we are able to participate in this groundbreaking clinical trial. I look forward to positive results in the future,” says Sawczuk.
The hospital and other testing sites in New Jersey are still looking for more volunteers – especially from members of minority communities, to make sure the enrollment group is diverse. Treatments, vaccines and drugs may act differently in diverse communities.
The New Jersey studies are part of phase 3 of the trial on the Moderna vaccine. Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and University Hospital is also part of the phase 3 clinical research study. Volunteers must be over 18, healthy and never had COVID-19.