- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2020

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A medical research company in Fargo will conduct two clinical trials that could lead to a vaccine for COVID-19.

Lillestol Research is among several facilities across the nation participating in “Operation Warp Speed,” the federal government’s plan to provide 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by January 2021.

Lillestol operations director Jamie Brown says the company plans to begin recruiting patients for the trial soon. She says patients chosen for the study will be tracked regularly to see if they contract coronavirus, KFGO reported. Participants will be compensated, but the company did not say to what extent.

“These trials are placebo-controlled, meaning patients will get real vaccine or a placebo, which is inactive. We won’t know who is getting which type,” Brown said. “They will be followed for approximately two years. They’re really followed closely that first year.”

The trials will be overseen by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Pharmaceutical companies will provide the vaccines and placebos.

“Things have been changing at a very, very fast pace. We’ve never seen anything develop this quickly before,” Brown said. “We expect to get started in the next 2-3 weeks and enrollment. They want to be getting all of the patients into the trial in two months.”

North Dakota health officials reported 149 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday and two new deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to 107.

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