Tucson COVID-19 vaccine trial about to hit 'Warp Speed'

Posted at 8:30 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 23:30:14-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Two weeks into a national COVID-19 vaccine trial, and the Tucson clinic taking part received help from the federal government.

It's part of "Operation Warp Speed." The hope is that it will speed up the enrollment of participants in the nearly 90 clinics nationwide.

"Love to be able to tell everybody to go get it," said Dr. Jack McGettigan. "Let's get rid of this COVID. Let's kick COVID in the you know what."

Dr. McGettigan is hopeful this Moderna vaccine will be the one to finally kick COVID.

His Quality of Life Medical & Research Center in Tucson just got a boost in its effort to test the efficacy of the vaccine.

After enrolling about 25 participants a day, this trailer will allow Quality of Life to travel at "Warp Speed."

"Maybe just storing patients out there, post-vaccine," explained Yvonne De Los Reyes, the coordinator of the trial in Tucson. "We kind of show them how to use their diary. The same process that you went through. So we can kind of flood this clinic with more patients."

I was one of the first in Southern Arizona to be enrolled in the COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Two weeks ago, when I received the first of my two injections, it took me about two and a half hours to complete the first visit.

With this new trailer, Quality of Life will be able to cut that time almost in half. That should translate to enrolling many more participants each day.

Nationally, CNN reports Moderna's vaccine trial may be delayed because of a lack of minority participants. According to CNN, Black people and Latinos account for more than 50% of COVID-19 cases nationwide. So far, they make up only 15% of participants.

Quality of Life Medical & Research Center tells me they're doing well enrolling Latino participants, although they don't have final numbers yet.

Through Wednesday, Quality of Life has enrolled 367 participants. That surpasses the goal Moderna set for the Tucson Trial.

Dr. McGettigan hopes to enroll 1,000 in Tucson.

Early patients in the trial like me, will receive our second injection of either the vaccine, or a placebo, in just over a week.