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COVID-19 vaccine trial set to come to Tampa Bay research site

The trial is expected to begin enrolling in January 2021.

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A Tampa Bay area research site has been awarded a COVID-19 vaccine trial with Merck & Co.

Suncoast Clinical Research said the trial is expected to start enrolling participants by January 2021 out of its New Port Richey location. 

Suncoast Clinical Research said there will be a limit to the number of people who can be apart of the trial. Anyone who is interested should call Suncoast at (727) 849-4131 or submit their information online. 

“We are thrilled to be able to offer patients the opportunity to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial. Many pharmaceutical companies are working diligently to deliver an effective vaccine for this global pandemic. Merck has a long history of producing vaccines, so we are very fortunate to be partnering with them”, said the research site’s Medical Director, Cathy Barnes.

This is not Suncoast's first trial involving the novel coronavirus. It recently completed a COVID-19 rapid testing study with Abbott. During that trial, it was able to test 150 patients in the community who thought they might have COVID-19. 

While scientists work around the clock to find a vaccine, 42 of them across the globe are already going through clinical trials. Ten of them are in Phase Three. Infectious disease experts say the process to get an emergency approval can't be rushed. 

Researchers now say we may know if a vaccine is promising by the end of this year, but an emergency use authorization from the FDA may not be granted until 2021.