AstraZeneca vaccine trials underway in South Bay

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Participants in AstraZeneca’s phase three coronavirus vaccine trial lined up in Chula Vista Tuesday to receive their first dose.

“This has been the most highly-impacted area in San Diego County. Chula Vista, the South Bay in general,” Aaron Gutierrez said. “I want to make it easier for them to have access to these vaccines.”

The clinical trial is in partnership with the University of California San Diego and Gutierrez is a community outreach specialist for the Antiviral Research Center. He said minorities have not been properly represented.

To be considered for the clinical trial, candidates must meet certain criteria. They have to be Hispanic or over 60 and have underlying conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or type two diabetes.

“They get the first shot on day one and then they get the second one on day 29,” Gutierrez said.

Jaime Yslas got his first dose two weeks ago and was onsite Tuesday to get his blood drawn.

“I think if someone doesn’t step forward and be part of the solution, we’re never going to find the answer,” he said. “We always hear people say, ‘Somebody should do something.’ The way to help that is to step up and be that somebody.”

So far, Yslas said he’s had no symptoms or discomfort. He will get his second shot in two weeks.

“Normally they do 50% placebo and 50% vaccine. For this test, they’re doing twice as many vaccine as they are placebo. So, a two-in-one chance that I’m getting good stuff,” he said.

Participants receive $500 if they complete the 24-month trial, which includes two shots, bloodwork and telehealth follow ups. Like Pfizer and Moderna, AstraZeneca hopes to have FDA Emergency Use Authorization by the end of the year. They are recruiting 30,000 people across the country and 1,600 from the South Bay for their trials.

“It’s going to take a long time to get this right. Everything from the social distancing, wearing masks, vaccines — are all part of the solution,” Yslas said. “We have to be patient. Other pandemics have taken decades, so we’re moving pretty fast.”

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