HHS, Gov. Kemp visit Savannah site conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The site of the COVID-19 vaccine trial in Savannah was visited by state and federal officials on Friday.

United States Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and Rear Admiral Erica Schwartz, deputy U.S. surgeon general, visited Meridian Clinical Research along with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

“We are making real progress against this virus, and this progress would not have been possible without the support and sacrifice of so many people in this state,” said Hargan.

Meridian’s COVID-19 vaccine trial started in July in Savannah, and although it’s supported by Operation Warp Speed, officials say the public shouldn’t fear that the experiment is being rushed.

“It has nothing to do with safety, it has nothing to do with efficacy,” Hargan said. “No cutting corners on that.”

Thanks to Congress and taxpayers, he said they have been able to conduct research, factory buildout and distribution all at once.

Kemp said the state is developing plans on how to distribute so “that we get it out quick and get it deployed to the folks who need it.”

Watch more of Friday’s press conference:

“There’s so much excitement. I mean this has been the most supervised and most important trial ever,” said Dr. Paul Bradley, with Meridian.

The researchers are still looking for volunteers for the trial, particularly minorities and individuals most at risk of contracting COVID-19. Visit here to learn more.

Bradley said patients will be able to trust the vaccine because the research has been carefully monitored and there will be ample data available.

“This is the greatest trial in the history of the world, and it’s being carried out that way,” Bradley said.

Hargan explained that there are four vaccines in the Phase 3 clinical trial. At least one company expects to be able to present their data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late next month.

The goal is to have a vaccine by year’s end.

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