How a Lyft Exec Who Survived COVID-19 Is Helping Coronavirus Researchers Get Volunteers

Clinical studies need millions of participants, and a new online registry is trying to find them.

There are hundreds of ongoing COVID-19 clinical studies that collectively need millions of participants, and a new online registry is trying to find them.

The National Institutes of Health currently lists 1,208 research projects taking place around the world, and around half of them are actively recruiting subjects. But traditional recruitment methods, like a suggestion by a patient’s physician or outreach from a research institution, are slow and not necessarily suited for a global pandemic.


It’s a problem that interested Lyft Chief Strategy Officer Raj Kapoor, who had his own experience with COVID-19 in mid-March.

“It took me nine days to get my results back, which was very nerve-racking,” Kapoor told VICE News. “And I noticed that there was a mad scramble to find people that were COVID positive to do these tests to prove that they work.”

After his recovery, Kapoor teamed up with Clara Health, a San Francisco-based startup that connects patients with clinical trials. Together they launched a new site called World Without COVID, which starts with a brief questionnaire and then matches people with relevant studies. The project is open to people regardless of their COVID status, as some research projects are monitoring healthy individuals as well.

VICE News spoke with the co-founders of World Without COVID, and a virologist who’s working on coronavirus studies, about the initiative and how it could help speed up critical research.

Edited by Jessica Opon.

Cover: A laboratory technician extracts the nucleic acids during the coronavirus swab test process at a laboratory biosafety level three (BSL-3) of Torlak institute in Belgrade, Vojvodina, Serbia, on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.