The critical need to find a safe and effective vaccine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic was a top priority for Dr. Christopher Lucasti, chief of Shore Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Division.
Just out of medical school, Lucasti was an integral part of a clinical trial and the effort to develop the Pfizer vaccine. He has continued with that mission and his practice has been involved with more than 100 clinical trials for antibiotics and other medications over the last 25 years.
Because of his success with previous clinical trials, Pfizer reached out to Lucasti to be part of their clinical trial for the mRNA vaccine. “We were the only Pfizer COVID-19 clinical testing site in the Philadelphia area and only one of two in New Jersey,” Lucasti said in a news release.
In August and September 2020, Lucasti enrolled 150 patients in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine study. Lucasti said the clinical trial was a “blind” study and the 150 participants did not know if they received a placebo or the actual Pfizer vaccine. Once the study was complete and the emergency use authorization was permitted by the Federal Drug Administration, the study conducted was “unblinded.”
Lucasti said he and his staff have been involved with clinical trials on about 90 percent of the antibiotics that have been released in the past two decades.
“We work with the pharmaceutical companies, and we enroll patients that we feel have a chance to benefit from a new medication to treat their disease or infection.”
As an infectious disease physician, Lucasti said he loves what he does.
“In my field, we have the opportunity to cure patients. In many fields, the doctor can help a patient manage their disease very successfully but my hope is that if you come to me with an infection, and after treatment, their problem is resolved and cured,” he said.
“They leave and go on with their lives and that is something that is very special to me. Maybe I will never see them again, and that is a good thing. They are cured and curing patients has always been my goal.”