Gary Crispell, a Public Health Command-Pacific microbiologist, simulates how to test a sample for at the Naval Health Research Center satellite laboratory co-located at Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan. Crispell was one of three people to work around the clock this past spring operate the only Department of Defense COVID-19 testing lab in Japan. (Courtesy photo)
Photo by Amber Kurka
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The Department of Defense named five sites recently for the upcoming Phase III trial to evaluate COVID-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222. Developed by AstraZeneca, the vaccine trials comprise the next step in Operation Warp Speed, a mission to deliver safe and effective vaccines by January 2021.

COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

“The Department of Defense continues to play a key role in the development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine,” said Honorable Tom McCaffery, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. “Now that vaccines have passed the first phases of testing for safety, dosing and response, we are ready to move into the next phase where volunteers are needed to join large clinical studies. We are excited to have several sites identified to support the next steps in the vaccine development process.”   

DOD COVID-19 Testing Sites

  • Naval Medical Center San Diego (Site Code: NMSD)
  • Joint Base San Antonio Brooke Army Medical Center (Site Code: BAMC)
  • Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center (San Antonio) (Site Code: WHASC)
  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Bethesda, MD) (Site Code: WRMC) and
  • Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (Fort Belvoir, VA) (Site Code FBCH)

Volunteers Needed

The military also needs volunteers for the trials. To volunteer, visit CoronavirusPreventionNetwork.org. Once there, complete a survey, and local study site coordinators will contact Military Health System beneficiary volunteers in the area. Authorities will then identify good match candidates.

Officials seek individuals representing high-risk communities. According to a DOD press release, participation from those groups remains critical to finding a vaccine.

SARS-CoV-2 High-Risk Groups

  • Working in an essential job, such as healthcare professions, emergency response personnel, grocery workers, meat-packing plants, restaurant staff, public transit, etc.
  • Living in densely populated residential environments
  • Living or working in congregated living facilities such as correctional facilities or nursing homes
  • A member of a community that has been hardest hit by this pandemic, such as older persons, persons with underlying health conditions, and racial/ethnic groups such as African Americans, Latino, and Native American populations.

Operation Warp Speed stems from a U.S. government, interagency endeavor focused on delivering a staggering 300 million doses of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines. A broader strategy includes accelerating the development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics (countermeasures) for the virus, according to DOD.

The ongoing push for a vaccine became highly politicized of late, and will likely remain so. But regardless of which side of the isle you identify, a viable vaccine remains a critical mission. God’s speed to all those fighting the good fight.

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