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Atrium Health part of new COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

Enrollment of volunteers for the Novavax vaccine has already begun.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Atrium Health is looking for people to be part of a clinical trial testing the safety and effectiveness of another possible COVID-19 vaccine, this one developed by Novavax.

On Thursday, researchers started vaccinating people who had already signed up to take part in the new clinical trial.

Vaccines are in short supply nationwide. That’s why there's a strict order to who gets it when. This trial is a step towards possibly bulking up that supply so more people can be vaccinated faster.

RELATED: Atrium, Novant now offering vaccines as Mecklenburg County's public distribution books up

There have been long lines and booked up appointments across the Charlotte region this week as people 75 and older began taking advantage of the chance to get a coronavirus vaccine. The demand for those shots high.

Globally, researchers are working to develop more effective vaccines and some of that research is happening in Charlotte.

"The Novavax vaccine trial is now the fifth Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial that is launching in the United States,” said Dr. Chris Turley, vice chair of research at Atrium Health Levine Children’s and lead physician investigator of STRIVE.

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STRIVE is Atrium Health’s vaccine research program. It stands for strategic research, innovation, vaccines and engagement. It was developed in September with the goal of identifying vaccines that prevent coronavirus and will reduce spread among the population.

Caren Hornbuckle rolled up her sleeve Thursday, unsure if she was given the Novavax vaccine or a placebo.

RELATED: Mecklenburg County health director asks for patience as 5,186 seniors scheduled vaccine appointments

“I just feel so strongly about getting the vaccine. I'm just ready for COVID to be gone,” said Hornbuckle.

Locally, Atrium is looking for about 250 people to take part in the research study.

Participants like Hornbuckle will potentially be given an effective vaccine much earlier than they would've gotten it otherwise.

“We’re way in another phase and the vaccine is our best option. So, someone has got to test it and we figured why not us,” she said.  Plus, it gives her hope the world will be on the other side of this pandemic sooner rather than later.

RELATED: NC DHHS Secretary on vaccine distribution: 'We want to be seeing a higher rate of vaccination'

If it's proven to be safe and effective, this vaccine would be another tool in fighting this virus.

“It has been a supply and demand issue all along. If we have more companies able to make vaccine, then we have more opportunity to supply it to people. All of us know that there can be supply chain problems that can develop at any time for any product, so it provides us a safety net,” said Dr. Turley.

Atrium Health officials say they plan to launch other vaccine trials in the near future.

Anyone interested in taking part can call 833-451-1188, visit atriumhealth.org/covidvaccine or email STRIVEvaccineregistry@atriumhealth.org

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