UNC Health researchers searching for participants in COVID-19 vaccine, treatment study

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Frontline workers have been rightfully dubbed the healthcare heroes during this pandemic. However; researchers at UNC say the next breakthrough in treatment, thought in their hands, needs your help.

"UNC has been selected as a site where a very large vaccine study," said Dr. Cynthia Gay, an infectious disease specialist at UNC.

Researchers and doctors are studying Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. UNC is among 89 sites across the country participating. Here at home, they hope to enroll 500 people to help determine whether the vaccine is effective.

"We're really committed to having people participate in the study who have been hard hit by the pandemic," said Dr. Gay.

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The race to develop vaccine for the coronavirus is not only shifting into high gear. It turns out, drug companies are following different maps to find the finish line.

In addition to vaccines, experts are now making advances in treatment options.

"We're about to start within days and it's going to be a really heavy lift trying to get people who find out that they're positive with COVID-19 to sign up to get that treatment," said Dr. David Wohl.

Getting people to sign up is a challenge. While COVID-19 tends to impact communities of color in a greater capacity, those are the same communities that historically deal with healthcare inequities and disparities that researchers admit breeds skepticism.

"Understandably, we understand that our hope is that people recognize that UNC and many other infectious disease specialists, that we are working for these communities," said Dr. Cynthia Gay.

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