Covid-19 protective mask and personal protection laboratory gloves.

Since 1993, New York Blood Center Enterprise’s Laboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention, also known as Project ACHIEVE, has been conducting clinical trials looking for innovative ways to help reduce the risk of HIV infections, including HIV preventive vaccines.

The Lab is part of HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), the largest clinical trials program devoted to the development and testing of preventive HIV vaccines worldwide. The HVTN is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID),

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, NIAID responded by forming a new group known as the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), which Project ACHIEVE became a part of.

What is CoVPN?

NIAID is working with global partners like Project ACHIEVE to address the critical need for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to prevent COVID-19 through large-scale clinical trials on COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.

How Is Project ACHIEVE Involved?

For the past year, Project ACHIEVE has been working with the CoVPN to develop and test COVID-19 vaccines. Let’s take a look at two of their main areas of impact.

Recruiting for Clinical Research Trials

As a site, Project ACHIEVE supported the Phase 3 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial and the Phase 3 Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial. In total, the lab has enrolled 250 people in the two studies, focusing on participants of diverse race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Their community engagement and recruitment efforts have been critical given how the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected minority and poor individuals in the city. There has historically been a low representation of these groups in clinical trials.

Promoting Vaccine Education in Diverse Populations

Throughout their involvement with the CoVPN, Project ACHIEVE has also utilized mobile vans provided by CoVPN to conduct community outreach and study visits. Each van came staffed with nursing professionals from the Matrix Medical Network, complemented by research staff from Project ACHIEVE. Five days a week, the van was situated in two critical neighborhoods that had been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and that are racially and ethnically diverse: Jackson Heights, Queens, and Flatbush, Brooklyn Later, a third physical site opened in Chelsea in Manhattan.

The mobile van enabled them to promote vaccine education throughout the city. At the same time, they conducted clinical trial recruitment in these diverse communities and conducted study visits. Over half of the participants in these two Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials self-identified as nonwhite. This accomplishment is critical in assisting populations that the pandemic has impacted disproportionately.

How Can Others Become Involved in CoVPN?

There are several ways you can become involved with Project ACHIEVE and the CoVPN. First, check out the Project ACHIEVE website and see if you might qualify to participate in one of the many crucial studies done there.

Project ACHIEVE has an active Community Advisory Board (CAB) that anyone can join. CAB provides scientific and ethical guidance on study design, recruiting, and study volunteer protection. Community viewpoints are especially important when developing strategies for identifying, recruiting, and retaining study participants.

The Lab also has social media accounts on most mainstream platforms, including InstagramFacebook, Linked In, and Twitter. So follow them there and help get the word out.

New York Blood Center Enterprises is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and support for these life-saving projects. Please consider donating funds onlinesigning up to give blood, or volunteering your time.