The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is unfolding on Long Island — though residents are unsure if they would volunteer.
NYU Langone is running a vaccine trial for drug maker Astra Zeneca. The vaccine has already been tested on 20,000 people globally but is advancing to Phase 3 trials and NYU Langone is seeking 1,000 volunteers in New York, 250 of them from Long Island.
“The virus has been modified so it can’t replicate in our body,” said Dr. Martin Backer, associate director for NYU Langone’s Vaccine Center. “It sort of teaches our immune system how to respond to it.”
Dr. Backer says they are seeking specific types of volunteers: those 65 and older, those with medical conditions, racial minorities, first responders and essential workers. He also said because the incidence of virus has increased so much recently, it shouldn't take long for researchers to find how effective the vaccine is.
“That’s why we are looking to enroll people that are going to be at risk for getting sick by nature of what they do,” added Dr. Backer. He said that so far the side effects have been mild, but not every one was convinced.
"It is, but it comes with things — everything comes with side affects and consequences, I’m not willing to try that at all," said Nyeem Ward, of Elmont.
"I just think it’s too new and you don’t know any of the risks yet," said Mineola resident Vickie Divella.
While others appreciated the need for trials to speed up the creation of a vaccine that could mean getting back to life as we knew it.
Greg Vogel said he believes "that’s the only way we can move this forward is to get a vaccine and you need people to try it out on."
Suzanne Sunday was among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the clinical trials. The 69-year-old researcher and scientist said that "science is the only way that we are going to get out of this mess, and if I can help, I think it's an important thing."
Two out of three participants will be injected with the vaccine, while the third will be given a placebo.
To find out if you qualify for the trial, visit NYU Langone's website or contact NYU Langone Hospital Long Island at 516-663-3890.