KGUN 9NewsStatewide News


Race for protection underway as coronavirus vaccine trials continue in Arizona

Posted at 7:03 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 22:04:00-04

Coronavirus vaccine trials are now underway throughout Arizona.

“We actually just hit a milestone today where we’ve vaccinated our 100th subject,” Dr. John McGettigan said Friday.

Dr. McGettigan is heading up the Moderna coronavirus vaccine trials for Quality of Life Medical and Research Center in Tucson. Volunteers signed up by the thousands over the last few weeks.

So far, those who’ve received the vaccine range in ages from 18 to their late 80s.

“We’ve had a lot of first responders, several nurses, nurse practitioners, several physicians have come in,” said Dr. McGettigan.

In total, more than 200,000 Americans have signed up for the Moderna trial across the U.S.

At least half will get the actual vaccine, the other half will get a placebo, and each volunteer is closely tracked for side effects.

“In our case, something called an electronic diary that asks them questions, and we’re going to be doing phone calls roughly once a week,” Dr. McGettigan explained. And so far, those check-ups seem promising.

“Some people are reporting absolutely nothing, but then we’ve had some folks report a sore arm. I remember one patient had some chills,” said Dr. McGettigan.

He says vaccination and tracking will go on for months. The goal is to prove it’s effective and get it to the public.

TGEN in Flagstaff also has a way for those who’ve had the virus to play a critical role.

“We design the study specifically to get people who were stuck at home but interested in participating,” said Dr. John Altin, an immunologist with TGEN.

Locals who’ve had the virus and recovered can request a through-the-mail blood draw kit. A few drops of blood mailed back to researchers potentially revealing answers to lingering questions.

See how to request the at-home blood draw kit here:

“We analyze those blood samples to try and understand what type of antibody response has been generated against this virus and how those things last over time, how things look at month one versus month three,” said Dr. Altin.

With the world depending on science at the moment, it could be Arizonans that hold the key at this historic time.