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Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

A First-Person Account Of COVID Vaccine Trial From Mountain West News Bureau Reporter

A needle with measurements on the side going into an unmarked vaccine vial.
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Adobe Stock

There is growing curiosity and even some anxiety surrounding the much-anticipated vaccines for COVID-19. While the nation anxiously awaits the FDA's review of the Pfizer and Moderna-based vaccines, hundreds of more trials are continuing on the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, and one of those trials is being conducted in the Treasure Valley.

The Mountain West News Bureau's Madelyn Beck agreed to be a subject in that trial; and following her first injection, she visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the experience in the "double-blind" trial, some after-the-injection symptoms she encountered, and what she can expect, procedurally, in the weeks and months to come.

“I have about a two-to-three … the ratio is that out of every three people, two people get the vaccine, one does not. They get a placebo, just a saline solution. So, yeah, I went in there; and there is a two-thirds chance that I got the real vaccine.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I’m George Prentice. Well, without question, the main topic of conversation circles around the vaccines -  the different vaccines for COVID-19. And we're going to spend a few minutes with someone who has… well… possibly already received a vaccine. And I say “possibly…” because…well, you'll know in a second. It's someone you know here on Boise State Public Radio News: The Mountain West News Bureau’s. Madelyn Beck is here. Madelyn, good morning.

MADELYN BECK: Good morning.

PRENTICE: So which vaccine? We have to assume this was a blind test.

Credit Boise State Public Radio
Mountain West News Bureau reporter Madelyn Beck

BECK: Yes, a double-blind study is what they call it. Yeah, I got potentially got the vaccine for AstraZeneca’s Phase Three trial. So, we know there's a couple floating out there. The Pfizer and the Moderna [vaccines] are already seeking FDA approval. This is the next one in the pipeline. So, a “phase three” study is about 40,000 people. They say with this one, it's about 300 sites globally where they'll be doing this vaccine study.

PRENTICE: So, one of those sites is here in the Treasure Valley?

BECK: Yes, it's in Meridian. And so, I drove over there on Saturday and yeah, got something shot into my arm. I have about a two-to-three….The ratio is that out of every three people, two people get the vaccine, one does not. They get a placebo, just a saline solution. So, yeah, I went in there; and there is a two-thirds chance that I got the real vaccine.

PRENTICE: Did you experience any symptoms?

BECK: We'll initially, no. Which made me think, “Oh, I probably just got the saline solution.” But the next morning I woke up with some muscle aches and a pretty good headache. That didn't last all day. It was just kind of more for the morning, for three or four hours.

PRENTICE: And that's in-sync with what we're hearing about possible symptoms.

BECK: Yep. So far, just from the research from AstraZeneca, they've seen about 60 percent of people who were part of the trial before, have had this very same kind of side effect. So, I'm pretty much in the majority, unless this was a complete placebo response and my body just decided to do it anyway to be part of this test,

PRENTICE: What can, or can't you do in the coming weeks?

BECK: So, it's not that I can or can't do anything really, except for not to participate in any other vaccine trials. I also can't donate blood because they'll be taking blood samples from me a couple of times. And so, yeah, no donating blood or anything like that. But otherwise they say, “Go about your regular day. You still should practice caution,” because we don't know if we actually got the vaccine. So, “Don't just go around thinking you got a vaccine that works.” This isn't an FDA-approved vaccine yet. There are a lot of potential side effects that they haven't accounted for in the first few phases of this vaccine trial.

PRENTICE: When do you get your second shot? And will you ever know if you were given the vaccine?

BECK: So, the second shot comes in about 30 days after your first one. So, for me, that's going to be the day before New Year's… that’s my next appointment. And I honestly, I don't think I'll ever know whether I got the real one or not in this kind of double-blind study.

PRENTICE: But they’ll track this for quite some time.

BECK: Yeah. I actually signed an extra waiver that allows them to keep my DNA for even longer. They'll keep contact with me for about two years for this study. So, they'll  check in, and I will fill out things on an app once a month, going forward. In the next few weeks, it's going to be more frequent, but later on, it's going to be once a month-ish.

PRENTICE: Can we assume that you and the [Mountain West News] Bureau will be following this story? You are a part of the story.

BECK: Absolutely. I'm definitely going to be coming out with a story about vaccine trials, and then I can speak with personal experience on what happened with me, and what might happen with others going forward.

PRENTICE: We'll be anxious to hear all of that. She is Madelyn Beck from the Mountain West News Bureau. Madelyn, good luck and thank you.

BEC: Thank you.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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