Lifespan mounts public campaign to promote federal efforts to recruit volunteers for essential COVID-19 vaccine trials

September 17, 2020

Lifespan has joined the COVID-19 Prevention Network – an initiative of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – and is actively supporting federal efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 by helping to identify participants for vital clinical trials.  This week Lifespan is kicking off a local campaign to promote the COVID-19 Prevention Network’s Volunteer Screening Registry statewide.

Lifespan is spearheading this public effort through The Immunology Center at The Miriam Hospital, which has a long and successful track record of participating in major clinical trials, including drugs for HIV and hepatitis C. More recently, it was among one of the most active sites in the world testing the use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients.

Lifespan has created a website – www.lifespan.org/covidvax –  that links to the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN)’s registry, where those interested in participating in clinical trials for a vaccine may sign up to volunteer in a local trial should one become available. Lifespan has also launched a digital campaign on social media platforms to raise awareness of the registry, which was launched by the National Institutes of Health. 

The Immunology Center at The Miriam Hospital is awaiting selection as a COVID-19 vaccine trial site. Lifespan encourages those who are interested in being part of a future study to visit www.lifespan.org/covidvax and complete the CoVPN Volunteer Screening Registry survey using the code “LIFE.”

“Lifespan remains committed to making a healthcare impact that can be felt on a local, national and international level. This commitment is evidenced not only by the more than one-thousand COVID-19 patients we have cared for, but is also exhibited in our willingness to take the lead in the coordination of an effective statewide response to the spread of the virus. And while our efforts thus far have helped position Rhode Island to be among the nation’s best sites at limiting the spread of COVID-19, we will continue to leverage our clinical and scientific expertise to meet this moment. Lifespan’s involvement with the registry is one more way that we can make a national impact," said Michael Henderson, Vice President for Research for Lifespan. “We strongly encourage those who wish to join the fight against COVID-19 to please consider volunteering for a trial and signing up through the CoVPN registry.”

The CoVPN Volunteer Screening Registry was established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The registry is part of the federal government’s initiative, “Operation Warp Speed,” to undertake a public-private effort to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Funding for Lifespan’s public campaign comes from a $250,000 grant that The Miriam Hospital obtained from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for COVID-19 emergency response efforts, including CoVPN support. It is being led by infectious diseases physician Karen Tashima, MD, director of clinical trials at The Immunology Center and clinical research site leader for The Miriam Hospital, a research site of the Harvard/Boston/Providence AIDS Clinical Trials Group.

Tashima helped oversee the enrollment at Lifespan of nearly 200 patients in the remdesivir study, which was conducted under the auspices of a Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization and part of an international study sponsored by drug maker Gilead Sciences, Inc.

“Clinical trials are essential for identifying therapies that can prevent and treat disease and volunteers play a critical role when it comes to developing vaccines to rapidly respond to dangerous pandemics,” Tashima said. “We appreciate the selfless contribution of volunteers for these trials and encourage anyone who would like to participate to go to our website and volunteer at the registry. Don’t forget to enter 'LIFE' when prompted for a code; that will flag you as a candidate for a clinical trial at Lifespan, which we hope will happen soon.”

Richard Salit

Senior Public Relations Officer
The Miriam Hospital, Newport Hospital, Gateway Healthcare
401-793-7484
richard.salit@lifespan.org