Central Florida research center ready for trials if new coronavirus vaccine is developed

As Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson start looking at ways to fight the new omicron variant, Central Florida research labs are preparing just in case they're needed for testing.

Dr. Bruce Rankin, the medical director at Accel Clinical Research in DeLand, says it is ready to hold trials for a new COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna announced it could release a new vaccine to protect against the omicron variant within 100 days.

The research center was one of the first in Central Florida to start Moderna trials a year ago, and it says it could be ready with participants within weeks if a new vaccine is approved.

"If it’s for a new variant and they want to test it, we could be ready very quickly, within weeks," Dr. Rankin said. "We know our participants are very willing and able to come in and help test that."

Dr. Rankin says it’s similar to the flu shot that adjusts every year for different strains. But, he says a new COVID-19 vaccine would likely roll out faster.  

The influenza vaccine normally takes many months to manufacture, but the COVID-19 vaccines were designed so they can be adjusted in around three months.

"I know Moderna and Pfizer both have been set up to alter or adjust the vaccine to include new variants and mutations under those variants, which can be done rapidly, much quicker than our other vaccines that we’ve used traditionally," Dr. Rankin said.