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Lack of participants for COVID-19 clinical trials impacts most Nebraskans

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 2:58 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska is facing a pretty unique challenge: As more COVID-19 vaccines become available, fewer people are participating in clinical trials.

It’s a snowball effect that impacts other medical studies too.

For decades, clinical research groups, including Quality Clinical Research, an Omaha-based company, have worked with drug manufacturers to figure out if their product is effective and safe for mass distribution.

But that takes people — medicine doesn’t get made without clinical trials.

Here in Nebraska, as health officials lead the charge to increase vaccination numbers, clinical researchers are forced to get creative.

Seneca Harrison, the CEO of Quality Clinical Research said that’s true for his team because to qualify for a COVID clinical trial, you have to:

  1. Never have had COVID-19.
  2. Never have received a vaccination.

As more and more people are getting the vaccine, I am now talking to a smaller group. It takes a lot of advertising. It takes a lot of social media campaigning,” said Harrison.

Although the country has three COVID vaccines, he believes there’s a misconception that that’s enough.

More companies developing more versions of the vaccine means more research that could help determine if one version is better for children, or women, etc.

And now the lingering question is whether Americans will need a booster.

It’s a possibility, Harrison said. “This could become a flu shot situation where we will get a booster every year. If that’s the case, we need people to test the new boosters.

Harrison also said it’s especially tough right now to motivate people to participate in clinical trials because there was such demand during the pandemic.

And that’s bleeding into his efforts to find participation for the many other clinical trials his company assists with.

“It’s a struggle right now,” he shared. “Medicine doesn’t stop. We need to continue working on those trials, otherwise, we will have a lag in medicine development.”

So pharmaceutical advances in everything from cancer, hepatitis to meningitis and more, could suffer if clinical researchers don’t have participants to work with.

But according to Harrison, not everyone is reluctant.

QCR is getting a lot of calls from people who have a general interest, but a greater concern about how a clinical trial would mix if they’ve already been vaccinated for COVID. He said their responses are similar, promising to call back or try it later on in the year.

It’s a concern Harrison validates and said is also one his team of experts is equipped to handle; working with clinical trial participants during any process.

He also added, while Nebraska and the country as a whole may be slowing down the spread of COVID, we still can’t afford to let other diseases catch up.

WANT TO BE IN A CLINICAL TRIAL? Quality Clinical Research is currently seeking 19-25 year-olds for a Meningitis B clinical trial. All trials as paid. Those interested can find more information about the clinical trials on the QCR website.

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