SAN DIEGO — As the race for a viable coronavirus vaccine gets closer, we are hearing from those participating in the clinical trials. And what they’re finding is definitely promising.
Dan Selstad was one of the first to sign up to participate in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial. When he started it eight weeks ago, Selstad didn’t know if he was given the actual vaccine or a placebo. He felt nothing following the first dose and four weeks ago, he received the second dose.
“Woke up the next morning, it honestly felt like a hangover — I had a headache, I had a little bit of a fever and my arm definitely hurt where the injection site went in,” Selstad said.
He said he took some Motrin and felt 75% better by the end of the day and 100% after that.
On Monday, Moderna said its vaccine appeared to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data. Last week, Pfizer announced their initial data suggests a 90% efficacy rates in its vaccine, which uses the same MRNA genetic delivery system as Moderna.
“I work in physical therapy,” Selstad said. “I wanted to do it for my patients. The fear of getting some of my patients sick was greater than the fear of the vaccine itself.”
In a double-blind study, participants are not supposed to know which version they’re taking. But Selstad, a physical therapist, was pretty confident due to his symptoms.
“I finished my four-week followup after the second injection with the Moderna study and then I got my own antibodies privately tested with a company that had no idea that I was in the study,” Selstad said. And my test results came back glowing, showing that I have really good antibodies for COVID-19.”
Whether those antibodies provide immunity and for how long is still an unknown. In the Moderna study, participants keep a diary, have follow-up phone visits and blood work in another couple of months.
“Nobody knows that, nobody even in the study knows that I think because it’s so new,” Selstad said. “So personally I’m going to privately go get tested again in a couple months to see if the levels changed.”
While he admits to some nerves at first, Selstad believes vaccine is the only way to stop COVID-19 and get our lives back.
“Just like with smallpox and polio, I think the only way to fix this problem is to get everybody vaccinated,” Selstad said.
And he believes COVID-19 is only the beginning for what this type of genetically engineered technology could be used for.
“They’re talking about cancer — I think it’s just a whole new frontier,” Selstad said.