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HealthPartners to join Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine trial

The Minnesota health system will enroll 1,500 people in the trial.

HealthPartners has announced that it has been chosen as one of the global partners in Oxford University's trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

The Minnesota-based health system says it will enroll 1,500 people in a clinical trial to determine if the Oxford University vaccine, which has been developed along with pharma giant AstraZeneca, is effective at preventing the virus.

It's the only Minnesota company chosen for the trial, which is being conducted across 100 sites in the U.S., Peru, and Chile.

"HealthPartners is pleased to collaborate with AstraZeneca and Oxford University on this COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial," said Andrea Walsh, HealthPartners president and CEO.

"This research compliments our other efforts to advance COVID-19 testing, treatment and care and is an important part of our mission to improve health and well-being."

The Oxford vaccine is one of three that have entered the final stage of trials in the U.S., as countries and researchers around the world seek to bring a vaccine quickly to market.

Study participants have to be at least 18 years old, with researchers particularly interested in those with an increased risk of contracting the virus, such as health care workers, first-responders, and food service workers.

Those who work in other close contact professions, such as grocery workers and meat-packers, are also wanted to enroll.

They will also look to recruit those with underlying – but stable – conditions that make them more susceptible to severe forms of COVID-19 – such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions.

There will also be an emphasis on enrolling people of color, with the Black, Native, and Latino communities having seen higher rates of the virus and "poorer outcomes."

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"In order to test whether this vaccine is effective, we need to make sure we’re connecting with people who have the greatest likelihood of becoming ill,” said Charlene McEvoy, MD, HealthPartners pulmonologist.

"Then, over time, we’ll look at the data to see whether the vaccine was successful in preventing illness. Our hope is that we find those who received the vaccine have significantly lower rates of infection."

Two-thirds of enrollees will get the vaccine, the other third will get a placebo. These will be administered in two doses a month apart, with side effects including fever, fatigue and pain at the site of the vaccine, though data from earlier trials suggest it's "well tolerated."

For information on enrolling, look here.

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