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Gulfport company to expand COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 12:41 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Despite some national test trials for a COVID-19 vaccination being put on pause, the trial involving South Mississippi residents is still going on.

In fact, it’s about to get bigger and MedPharmics, the Gulfport clinical research company administering the trial, is expanding its research into what could be an even more promising direction.

This COVID-19 vaccination trial is Cindy Conde’s first as a volunteer and it probably won’t be her last. “I’m totally pro vaccine, and I’m not afraid,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”

And even the slight chills she got with her booster vaccination a month ago was welcomed because it likely meant the Ocean Springs resident didn’t receive a placebo as part of all clinical trials.

“I was kind of excited that I was involved in this and maybe make a difference," she said.

Conde said she wasn’t worried, even as a 71-year-old cancer survivor. “The fear goes away, sort of,” she said. “I wanted to give back any way I could.”

She is the kind of volunteer that has helped this third stage of clinical trials move along.

“We had a real strong turnout for the Pfizer test and still have people coming in for that so that’s been really great,” said Dr. Paul Matherne, one the clinical trial physicians. “The community has been really helpful.”

And now Pfizer is asking MedPharmics for a more diverse population in the trials as well those with pre-existing conditions such as HIV or hepatitis.

“We want to serve the underserved,” said Andrea Jeanfreaux, CEO of MedPharmics. “And the only way we can help the underserved is if they come to us.”

In addition to the vaccination trials, MedPharmics has just started this week testing on the monoclonal antibodies, the same that were received by President Trump. But in this case, it’s for family members of COVID-19 patients. And the studies could unveil even more potential.

“We’re hoping with monoclonal that maybe it could affect cancer treatment,” Jeanfreaux said. “Maybe it could affect the way we do vaccines. Maybe we could do away with vaccines.”

For the expanded vaccination trial combined with tests for the monoclonal antibodies, MedPharmics said it will need about 800 more patients. If you are interested in volunteering, call 228-206­-1286.

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