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San Antonio volunteers sought for Warp Speed vaccine trials

Image of Woman typing on laptop. Marcy Edwards, a Military Health System beneficiary, signs up for Operation Warp Speed, Nov. 2, 2020. Operation Warp Speed is a national initiative to accelerate the development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. (Photo courtesy of Jason Edwards.)

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Two San Antonio area Military Health System facilities are seeking volunteers from among the military beneficiary population to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.

The trial is part of Operation Warp Speed, a national initiative to accelerate the development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

The Brooke Army Medical Center aboard Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, and the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland are among the five Department of Defense locations taking part in the Phase III trial to evaluate the vaccine under development by AstraZeneca.

The other sites are Naval Medical Center San Diego in California, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia.

"The San Antonio Military Health System is proud to answer the call to help serve the needs of our nation in these unprecedented times," said Air Force Maj. Gen. John DeGoes, SAMHS market director and 59th Medical Wing commander. "We are proud to be selected as a partner in the effort to accelerate development of COVID-19 vaccines."

Army Brig. Gen. Shan Bagby, BAMC commanding general added, “We are honored to be among those sites selected in support of this whole-of government effort to ensure safe, effective medical products are provided at a critical time to the American people. SAMHS has the existing research infrastructure and experience to make a significant contribution to this important effort.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine trial is one of many national trials being conducted through Operation Warp Speed, and the first to encompass the DOD. With more than 80 sites nationwide, the trial has an overall target enrollment of 30,000 participants. Military sites are looking to draw 3,000 of those volunteers, according to a DOD release.

DOD sites are open on a voluntary basis to Military Health System beneficiaries – active duty, retirees and family members 18 years of age and older.

Beneficiaries can sign up for consideration by reaching out to either site:

Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center (Site Code: WHASC)
Recruitment Phone Number: 253-341-6170
Email: covidwhasc@genevausa.org 

Brooke Army Medical Center (Site Code: BAMC)
Recruitment Phone Number: 253-924-9458
Email: covidbamc@genevausa.org 

Alternatively, volunteers can also visit www.CoronavirusPreventionNetwork.org, click on “Volunteer Now” and complete the survey. When requested, volunteers should enter the appropriate site code, depending on their preference and geographic location.

Once the survey is completed, local study site coordinators will screen volunteers and contact those participants in their area who may be a good match for the study. Volunteers should consult with the study coordinator if they are scheduled to move, change their duty station or deploy within 12 months of beginning participation.

According to the DOD release, the study is looking for people who are at an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which may include:

  • Working in an essential job, such as healthcare professions, emergency response personnel, grocery workers, meat-packing plants, restaurant staff, public transit, etc.
  • Living in densely populated residential environments
  • Living or working in congregated living facilities, such as nursing homes
  • A member of a community that has been hardest hit by this pandemic, such as older people, individuals with underlying health conditions, and racial/ethnic groups such as African Americans, Latino, and Native American populations.

Volunteers selected will be enrolled into the study. Once the local sites are active, participants will be called in to receive two doses of the vaccine or placebo about a month apart.

Along with scheduled visits, participants will be asked to come in if they have symptoms throughout the year to be tested for COVID-19. Study participants will be followed for two years to determine the vaccine’s efficacy, while being compensated for their participation.

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