RI woman participates in COVID-19 vaccine trial

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A local woman got the chance to be one of the first in Rhode Island to participate in Covid-19 vaccine trials, right in Warwick.

Denise DaPonte said living through a global pandemic has made her feel helpless and scared, which is why she jumped at the chance to be a part of a potential solution.

“It was very emotional, it was almost like I jumped in and it was right in my backyard, because for all these months we have been helpless and I found something I can do,” DaPonte said.

DaPonte is taking part in a vaccine trial at Omega Medical Research for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in Warwick.

AstraZeneca is among three drug companies that have recently have reported promising vaccine results.

Omega’s parent company, Velocity Clinical Research, is also testing the AstraZeneca vaccines at several other sites across the country.

While DaPonte said her family had serious reservations about her participating in the vaccine trial, her husband insisted if she got the OK from their family doctor he would support her decision.

“I went in and I filled out the participation questionnaire form and 24 hours later I got a call from the nurse from Omega and 24 hours after that I was in the office getting the shot,” she said.

She tells 12 News she still doesn’t know whether she actually received a dose of the vaccine. Two-out-of-three trial participants are given the actual vaccine, while the third one gets a placebo, the company said in a statement.

She is a part of the study for two years, where she will have follow-up phone calls, visits and online questionnaires.

If she didn’t get the actual vaccine, DaPonte was told participants will be prioritized for treatment if the vaccine is approved.

In a statement, Velocity Clinical Research said they are still looking for Rhode Island volunteers.

“These trials still have to get done and without volunteers there wouldn’t be any vaccines,” CEO of Velocity Clinical Research Dr. Paul Evans said. “We are actively recruiting over 1,000 volunteers to COVID studies at our site in Rhode Island and still need people to sign up. Our work is not done yet and we think people who choose to take part in clinical research really are heroes.

For those interested in volunteering in the company’s COVID studies in Rhode Island, please visit www.velcoityclinicalresearch.com or call (401) 739-3573.

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