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Emory COVID-19 vaccine trial looking for 60 new volunteers in older age groups

The trial expands to an additional 30 volunteers 56 to 70 years old and 30 people who are 71 years and older.

ATLANTA — A new phase of the COVID-19 vaccine trial is starting at Emory.

Scientists are now asking for volunteers 56 and older. Researchers said it will help them better understand how the vaccine helps people who face a higher risk of complications. 

The trial expands to an additional 30 volunteers 56 to 70 years old and 30 people who are 71 years and older. 

Doctors said that since many older adults don't develop as strong of an immune response to vaccines, it's critically important to evaluate this vaccine in older people. 

"They've already vaccinated several people in different age groups," Dr. Annesh Mehta said of Emory University said.

Phase One of the mRNA vaccine trial began on March 16.  In it, 45 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 55 had been a part of it. 

"And that data is now being evaluated to see if that vaccine can go on to phase two testing, which we're really hopeful that it will," Mehta said. "We'll get far more information on how well this vaccine works."

The search is now on for the 60 volunteers aged 56 and up to get the trial vaccine. Those patients would get a shot two times a year and research would follow them over the course of that year to see how effective it is.

Dr. Mehta said that, right now, COVID-19 research is an expansive effort.

"I think that's one of the great stories out of this, is that we see people from all universities, all hospitals, really working hard at every aspect of the COVID-19 response," he said. "And so, it's not only looking at vaccines and therapies, but we're also seeing our mental health colleges looking at the social and mental impact of this infection that's going on in communities."

He said doctors and scientists are looking at how to prevent this virus down the road and how to deal with it better in the future.

"It has truly been a remarkable response to be a part of," Mehta said.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

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