Here's how you can help develop a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment

covid-19

You've heard it over and over again.

That we won't be able to get back to a state ocloser to normal, that Canadians won't feel comfortable going to concerts or heading on vacation until there's a vaccine for COVID-19.

If you want to help medical researchers potentially get there, but aren't sure how, there is a website to turn to.

COVIDTrials.ca aims to match volunteers with the best-fitting clinical trials for potential vaccines or treatments.

The site is the brainchild of Dr. Ramy Saleh, a medical oncologist and trialist. Saleh tells NEWSTALK 1010 he understood there was a need for more information about clinical trials after fielding questions from patients and their families as he worked on the COVID-19 ward at McGill University.

Prospective participants are asked to enter their age, sex, postal code and answer some basic health questions. The information is passed on to researchers who can zero in on the kind of participant they're after; maybe they need middle-aged women to round out their control group or want to understand how COVID-19 might affect cancer survivors.

Saleh explains the website can help expedite the process of signing up the right kind of trial participants

"The faster you recruit, the faster you finish the trials, and the fast you might have an answer if there's a treatment or not," Saleh says.

Saleh says recruiting has been difficult during the pandemic because of physical distancing restrictions and with healthcare professionals spread thin.

You aren't under any obligation to follow through with a trial when plugging in your information, but you are consenting to allowing a researcher to be in touch if could be a fit for their work.

"They will contact you and explain to you in more detail what is is the trial all about and what are the conditions and the rules of the trial," Saleh explains.

Over the last six weeks, COVIDTrials.ca has matched a few dozen people with clinical trials. 

"What is very important right now is to raise awareness among Canadians on the importance of clinical trials; for them to understand that this is the only way of trying to find a treatment or a cure."