Back in May, coronavirus outbreaks struck nine industrial facilities in Vernon, including the Smithfield Foods-owned Farmer John meatpacking plant.By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The USC Keck School of Medicine is asking for industrial plant workers in the city of Vernon to volunteer in a coronavirus vaccine clinical trial.

Scientists work at the mAbxience biosimilar monoclonal antibody laboratory plant in  Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Aug. 14, 2020, where an experimental coronavirus vaccine will be produced for Latin America. The vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford and the AstraZeneca laboratory. (Getty Images)

Researchers are looking to enroll 500 local volunteers for the phase three clinical trial of an investigative vaccine known as AZD1222 which was developed at the University of Oxford in England.

Back in May, coronavirus outbreaks struck nine industrial facilities in Vernon, including the Smithfield Foods-owned Farmer John meatpacking plant. At the time, the county said 153 of the 1,837 employees at the plant have tested positive for COVID-19.

The city of Vernon is primarily an industrial area and has very few residents.

Keck Medicine will operate the trial out of two locations, Vernon and the university. It is specifically seeking to enroll participants from populations more vulnerable to the coronavirus, such as factory workers, those over 65 and people of color.

“We want to help those who could benefit the most,” said Dr. Michael Dube, interim chief of the division of infectious diseases at Keck Medicine, in a statement.

The trial is a blind, placebo-controlled study. Two-thirds of the subjects will receive the vaccine and one third will receive a placebo, Keck Medicine said.

The vaccine is made from a weaker version of the common cold virus that has been genetically modified with a coronavirus protein. An earlier trial of 1,000 people produced positive results, Keck said.

The trial is enrolling 3,000 people nationwide, 500 of whom will be out of L.A. County. It is sponsored by biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

For information on how to enroll in the study, click here.

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