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Portsmouth Company Looking for More Participants in COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

A  microscopic image of the first case of COVID-19 in America.
Hannah A Bullock; Azaibi Tamin / CDC
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Trials for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate are currently being held in Portsmouth.

ActivMed Research in Portsmouth currently has 500 volunteers who will get the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being developed at Oxford University and was recently found to be 90 percent effective in late-stage trials.

Lori Tyler Gula of Lee said she was given her first dose of either the COVID-19 vaccine, or a placebo last week. She’ll get a second dose in a few weeks. She says she wanted to participate in the trials because her parents are high risk for COVID-19 and wanted to do her part.

"I've had a lot of friends who have gotten COVID and I've had some friends who have lost family because of it, and so anything I can do, that's what I wanted to do,” Gula said.

Gula said she had some mild side effects in the 24 hours after receiving either the vaccine or the placebo, similar to flu vaccine side effects. ActivMed Research CEO Terry Stubbs said few long-term side effects have been reported in the trials so far.

The study will be ongoing for two years and is looking for about 1,000 more healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 85 to participate.

“They can also be controlled and healthy. For instance, if I had high blood pressure or diabetes but my levels were controlled, I could still participate in the clinical trials,” Stubbs said.

If the U.S. trials are successful, the AstraZeneca vaccine could be ready for distribution this spring, Stubbs said.

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