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Austin-based company developing coronavirus vaccine

According to researchers, the biggest roadblock right now is finding volunteers for the COVID-19 vaccine trials.

AUSTIN, Texas — Operation Warp Speed, President Donald Trump's plan to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in record time, is well underway around the country, including Austin.

"We are in uncharted territories in many different ways," Benchmark Research founder, CEO and president Mark Lacy said.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine candidates secure billions in government funds

The company is just one of the government-backed companies testing for a COVID-19 vaccine. Lacy said they are testing seven different vaccines that are currently in different phases.  

"We have a study in phase two," Lacy said. "We have a study about to start phase two, and we have a study that is in phase three. We also have three more phases, three studies, that will be coming." 

So what happens after phase three? 

"We collect that data to give to the pharmaceutical company so that they can analyze the data and determine whether or not the drug is effective and if it should go to the FDA for approval," Lacy said.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Explaining the vaccine approval process

He said it typically takes four to five years to create a vaccine, but the process is being fast-tracked. Lacy predicts the vaccine could be ready by late this year or the second quarter of 2021. He said those vaccines will most likely be for essential workers. 

"Benchmark has vaccinated over 28,000 patients with zero adverse effects related to the drug," he said.

Despite those statistics, their biggest roadblock right now is finding volunteers for the trials.

"People have to get over the psychological of, 'Will this hurt me?" Lacy said. "Statistically, it is highly unlikely that it will hurt you in a phase two or three in a vaccine study."

Volunteers are paid, but the amount depends on the trial. Lacy said not only are you allowing yourself to be one of the first people vaccinated for COVID-19 but you are helping save lives as well.

If you want to participate in the clinical trials, click here.

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