UCSD hopes to start vaccine clinical trial in National City this week

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 23:25:38-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- Several trailers were set up at El Toyon Park in National City and will become a study site for a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, ran by UC San Diego.

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson is looking to enroll participants worldwide for phase three of its Janssen trial, including here in San Diego.

UCSD will recruit the majority of the participants.

The trial was scheduled to get underway on October 7th, but UCSD researchers now say they're looking at Friday as a start date.

"We hope to enroll about 2,000 people in San Diego, the study will be enrolling 60,000 people internationally," said Dr. Susan Little, a UCSD professor of medicine and principal investigator for the trial. "Eight Department of Defense trailers form the basis of our permanent vaccine site, vaccine clinic, in National City."

Little said this will be a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine the vaccine's safety and efficacy.

"Does it reduce the frequency of COVID infection overall or the severity of COVID infection among study participants?" she said.

Little said there is already a lot of data available from the past.

"This is the same vaccine vector that has been used for many other infectious diseases like HIV, Zika, Ebola," she said.

Although the trial is open to all San Diego County residents who qualify, she said the focus would be on recruiting residents from the South Bay, which is why the clinic was set up in National City, instead of UCSD's La Jolla or Hillcrest locations.

"Communities of color have been harder hit in the sense they have higher rates of hospitalization, and many of them have higher rates of death, our hope was by placing the vaccine trial in a community that has higher rates of infection we could reach a more highly impacted community," she explained. "Those are populations that we hope will have a greater potential benefit from this vaccine."

After concerns were raised over another trial that was later put on hold, UCSD worked with the Chicano Federation to ensure South Bay residents get the information they need to make an informed decision if they want to participate.

"We are putting safety as paramount for these studies, no study is going forward unless we are confident about the safety of the vaccine," said Little.

The Janssen trial will be the third for UCSD to join. The Moderna trial is currently underway, and the AstraZeneca trial is on a national pause.