What it’s like to be part of the largest coronavirus vaccine trial in the US

Central Florida research clinic taking part in nationwide COVID-19 vaccine trials

DeLAND, Fla. – As the world continues to battle COVID-19, there are thousands of vaccine trials taking place right now all over the U.S, including at research clinics in Central Florida.

The clinical research clinic, Accel Research Site, in DeLand, is administering the vaccine trial produced by two major pharmaceutical companies.

Christine Murphy, 56, received her first shot and in 28 days she said she’ll have to return for a second shot.

“It was simple, didn’t hurt, didn’t burn or nothing. It was good,” Murphy said.

Murphy signed up for the trial in hopes the vaccine will work in case she ever contracts the virus.

“I volunteer in multiple places with the homeless and addicted ... I’m in contact with at least 70 people a day that are all walks of life, and I worry about catching COVID and taking it back to my grandkids and my family,” she said.

Murphy said she was motivated to be part of this historic trial in the fight against the deadly virus because she felt compelled to do her part.

"I'm just tired of watching the news and seeing all the people getting sick and dying," she said. "If I can help, you know what I mean, change something then, hey, I'm all for it."

The patients, referred to as subjects, will have to keep up with their symptoms in a digital diary for researchers to study. Murphy said she wasn’t concerned about signing up for the trial.

“They said you may get a little fatigue or you know, (a) runny nose stuff like that. I read about the other people that have done it already and they didn’t seem to be too many side effects so I was OK with it,” the Boston native said.

Prior to receiving the first dose of the trial vaccine, patients have their blood drawn, provide a urine sample, and are given a COVID-19 test.

“We’re hoping to find patients that are high exposures. Healthcare workers, teachers, people in transit things like that,” Dr. Steve Shinn, a physician who works for Accel Research Sites, said. “We’re trying to be as broad as we can from 18 to 85 [years old] with this particular vaccine trial.”

Researchers will share their findings in a database where the pharmaceuticals they’re working with will have access and do additional studies.

“We’re vaccinating against the coronavirus, the proteins related to that virus, and as those proteins are built in the body the patient develops antibodies to those particular proteins and that helps develop immunity,” Shinn said. “Generally, antibodies respond within days to weeks. We’ll be doing blood work along the way and assessing for patients’ side effects.”

And if a patient contracts the virus during the trial phase. Shinn said he is hoping for the best outcome.

"We would hope the vaccine will provide some immunity and the patient battles the disease more efficiently," he said.

Researchers are still in need of more volunteers for this nationwide trial. For more information about the vaccine trial and how to sign up, visit: https://accelresearchsites.com/covid-19-clinical-trials/

About the Author: