COVID-19 clinical trial in New Orleans area is looking for moderately sick volunteers

By: - November 12, 2020 7:00 am

People in the New Orleans-Metairie area who recently tested positive for COVID-19 but aren’t so sick that they need hospitalization can take part in a clinical trial that will test multiple treatments developed from the blood of patients who’ve had COVID-19.

Volunteers must have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous seven days, experienced symptoms within the last 10, and aren’t so sick they require hospitalization.

“We’re trying to catch people early into the disease,” Dr. Robert Jeanfreau, the principal investigator of the trial, said by phone Wednesday afternoon. Jeanfreau said testing patients early into their COVID-19 symptoms is important because “medicines that work late in the disease — for example in hospitalized patients — don’t appear to be very effective early into the disease, and conversely medicines that work well in the early parts of the disease don’t necessarily work well in the latter parts of the disease.”

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the treatment to be used for trial purposes on Nov. 9.

Medical researchers across the world are also looking to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that would help people avoid infection.  However, the medication being tested during the trial Dr. Jeanfreau is overseeing is not a vaccine but a treatment that may help people who are already sick from getting sicker.

Jeanfreau, who said he would like to see at least 20 volunteers in this trial, said it’s important that those volunteers come from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds. “You want to be able to say this works for a broad spectrum of varying genetic backgrounds,”he said. “If you only have one type of person, you’re not going to be able to make that statement.”

Patients who meet the criteria should expect to be screened and tested, then administered the treatment intravenously. Jeanfreau said the trials are blinded, which means the administrators of the trials don’t know whether they’re giving a particular patient a treatment or a placebo.

“Do I have a feeling whether things are working? Yeah, I think some of the drugs that we’ve looked at in patients have worked and some haven’t,” Jeanfreau said. “But you can’t really say we’re sure because it’s blinded.”

The clinical trials are taking place at MedPharmics, 3800 Houma Blvd, Suite 335A in Metairie. COVID-19 patients interested in volunteering can call 504-609-2333 for more information.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.