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DHR Health mobile unit to conduct large-scale clinical studies in Rio Grande Valley

Starting next week, DHR Health plans to begin clinical trials on new COVID-19 treatments. They were just one of nine hospitals in the country selected to help with research. Staff will be working out of a mobile unit in what DHR Health officials are calling research on wheels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic or Latino people are three times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 and two times more likely to die of the virus compared to white, non-Hispanic people.

It’s a statistic that only adds to the importance of including Hispanics in clinical studies, a research component that Hispanics typically don’t participate in high numbers either, said Dr. Sohail Rao with the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development.

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“We would like to turn that particular around and make sure that the Hispanics are represented as they are nationally in our census,” Dr. Rao said.

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 98 percent of people living in the Rio Grande Valley are Hispanic or Latino, many of which suffer from comorbidities that put them at a higher risk of suffering complications of COVID-19.

“It’s really a huge deal because the mortality rate for our community is almost double that of the nation,” said Dr. Marissa Gomez-Martinez, the principal investigator for the research project.

Dr. Gomez-Martinez will be at the forefront of DHR Health’s effort to identify and evaluate COVID-19 treatments for people who don’t require hospitalization.

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DHR Health unveiled the mobile unit where medical officials plan to see those participating in the clinical trials on Thursday. Four clinical trials will soon be underway, two of which focus on monoclonal antibodies that try to prevent the virus from binding to its receptor.

“One of those trials is actually a capsule given for a 14-day period again trying to prevent the disease from becoming severe,” Dr. Rao said.

Medical officials are hopeful that through their research, they’ll be able to better understand what treatments work best to combat the virus –especially for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

If you’re interested in participating, but don’t have transportation, the mobile unit can go to you. For more information, contact DHR Health’s Research Institute at 956-362-2390.

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