COVID-19 vaccine trial reaches milestone with second round of injections

Posted at 4:09 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 17:11:42-04

TUCSON, Ariz.  — The Phase 3 trial of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine took a major step this week.

Participants like me are starting to receive the second of two doses.

This comes exactly 28 days after I received the first dose in the double-blind trial.

I am one of hundreds enrolled in the Tucson portion of the COVID-19 vaccine trial, at Quality of Life Medical and Research Center.

Moderna will eventually have 30,000 enrolled nationwide, to prove the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Infectious disease experts say this is the best way to stop the spread of the coronavirus, because early trial participants showed higher levels of antibodies against the virus, than even people who recovered from COVID-19.

"I think a vaccine may give us better immunity than natural infection in many cases," said Dr. Elizabeth Connick, Chief of the University of Arizona's Division of Infectious Diseases. "Increasingly, I think the vaccine is the only hope for really achieving herd immunity."

Herd immunity is when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease, through vaccination or prior illness.

"Depending on which expert you want to listen to, certainly well over 50 percent," said Dr. Jack McGettigan, owner of Quality of Life Medical & Research Center. "I think I've heard 60, 70, 80 percent. The higher the number of people protected from this, the less likely the people who don't get vaccines, or in a situation where it'd be difficult to get one, that protects them."

Quality of Life has received a big boost from the federal government's Operation Warp Speed, in the form of a recovery trailer.

They can see more participants by moving people like me into the trailer after receiving an injection.

I have to answer several medical questions each day for a week, using an app, after each of the two injections.

While Quality of Life is busy right now with the Moderna Vaccine Trial, they're already looking ahead to running more COVID-19 vaccine trials this fall.

"Anybody who can't quite get into this one, because we closed it early, hopefully they'll stay on the list and perhaps help us with the next one," Dr. McGettigan said.

Dr. Connick, the infectious disease specialist, wants to remind everyone to get a flu shot.

She warns that symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu. You want to avoid any unnecessary visits to the doctor or hospital.