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NIH Just Opened a Covid-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial in Humans. Here’s How to Volunteer.

Thousands of Americans can enroll in the study—including in Washington.

Coronavirus 2020

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Beginning today, NIH and the biotech company Moderna are testing a Covid-19 vaccine in humans as part of the third phase of a clinical trial. The research needs 30,000 volunteers. It’s taking place across the country, at 89 different sites. And three of them are in the Washington area: George Washington University in DC, the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine in Baltimore, and Meridian Clinical Research in Rockville.

Here are a few things to know before applying to volunteer:

  • Not everyone who volunteers will get the vaccine. One half of the participants will get it; the other half will get a placebo. (Participation is randomized; neither you, nor the researchers, will know whether you were injected with the placebo or the vaccine.)
  • You’ll show up for two different injections, a month apart.
  • You’ll agree to have blood work done, and to be tested for Covid.
  • There’s homework: You’ll keep a diary of your temperature readings and any symptoms, particularly after the injections.
  • If you end up positive with Covid after the injections, you’ll be referred to doctors for appropriate medical care. You’ll provide the clinical-trial organizers with daily assessments of your symptoms and submit to saliva tests.
  • You must be at least 18 years old to participate.
  • You cannot have been previously diagnosed with Covid-19.
  • The study is testing for efficacy and safety. The study lasts two years.
  • Certain people (pregnant or breastfeeding women; those taking immunosuppressants) are ineligible. See the full list of exclusion criteria here.

There are several ways to volunteer: Meridian in Rockville is enrolling through this website. For all clinical-trial centers, you can go to the Covid Prevention Network website and click on “Volunteer Now” to be screened. Alternatively, apply through the trial announcement at clinical (email or call 1-855-663-6762).


Kristen Hinman
Articles Editor

Kristen Hinman has been editing Washingtonian’s features since 2014. She joined the magazine after editing politics & policy coverage for Bloomberg Businessweek and working as a staff writer for Voice Media Group/Riverfront Times.