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Benchmark Research needs thousands of participants to join new and existing COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Although Pfizer's vaccine was authorized for emergency use, more vaccines and data are required to safely slow the spread of COVID-19.

AUSTIN, Texas — Although Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use, Benchmark research, a company conducting the trials, needs thousands of vaccine trial volunteers to continue to gather data and get more vaccines. 

Benchmark Research CEO Mark Lacy predicts Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine will be authorized for emergency use next week. 

While both companies report their vaccines are 95% effective, Lacy said there are still a lot of unknowns. 

"Even though they have emergency use authorization, those trials will continue to go on and they'll be revamped," said Lacy. "In all likelihood, the people that are participating in that study will have two more vaccines to be able to take if they were part of the placebo group."

RELATED: Texas expected to receive over 220,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine in first week

Benchmark Research is conducting these trials right here in Austin. 

Lacy said three new companies are jumping into the race for a COVID-19 vaccine and will start their trials next week.

At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are trying to get more data on sectors of the population that have been left out: children under 17 years old and pregnant women. 

"We will be doing trials on mothers," said Lacy. "We will be doing trials on pediatrics. We'll be doing trials on adolescents. We'll be doing even more trials on over 65 and all that sort of thing." 

To get that much-needed data and more people vaccinated, Lacy said they need thousands of diverse volunteers. 

"In order to have a mother who's pregnant get a vaccine, we need to know that's safe for her to do that," said Lacy. "That means we're going to see a lot more studies and a lot more people that are necessary to be able to get us to where we need to be in this really extraordinary, unprecedented time."

Benchmark Research is also conducting research for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine. Lacy predicts its vaccine trial will be completed by mid-January and the emergency approval process will happen shortly thereafter.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine will reportedly require one shot instead of two like Moderna and Pfizer.

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