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Local woman nears end of AstraZeneca vaccine trial

Published: Jan. 3, 2021 at 11:21 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In the last few days, both the UK and India approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, which experts say will delay the time between administering the first dose and the follow-up jab up to three months, in hopes of doubling the number of people who can be vaccinated short term to provide more people a level of virus protection.

The vaccine hasn’t been FDA approved for emergency use in the U.S. yet, but according to the CDC is one of three large-scale clinical trials in progress, including right here in Wichita.

“I got a full dose about a month ago of the AstraZeneca and I got pretty sick and I got a fever and chills and muscle aches,” said Kenzie Borland, who participated in a COVID-19 vaccine trial through Heartland Research Associates. “I had no other symptoms, just the feeling of a fever which lasted about 24 hours about 9 hours after my first dose.”

Borland said based on her symptoms, she believes she received the real vaccine and not the placebo. She said she didn’t experience any symptoms after the second jab, which she received about four weeks after the initial vaccination.

“It’s been smooth sailing since then and I’m getting my antibody test in a couple of weeks to confirm and see if I got the antibodies,” she said. “That will be confirmation as to whether I got the real dose.”

Dr. Terry Klein, the Medical Director for the Alliance for Multispecialty Research in Wichita, formerly known as Heartland Research Associates, said right now the most common trial administered to volunteers at AMR is the AstraZeneca trial. He said in most trials, about two out of three volunteers will receive the actual COVID-19 vaccination.

“The reason we are still enrolling in research even though there is a vaccine that has been approved is because unfortunately it is not available to the many rank in file patients,” Klein said. “The people who are even at high risk are still not able to get the vaccine.”

He said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine is that it doesn’t require freezing and has a longer shelf life than both Moderna and Pfizer.

“AstraZeneca is a two-shot regimen that doesn’t require freezing, just refrigeration and the dosing is beneficial because its life is longer, up to six months where the other two are more like 30 days,” Klein said.

Klein said AMR alone has had a few thousand volunteers sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine trial in the Wichita area, and that participating in a trial is the quickest way to get exposure to the vaccine.

“For most of the patients I see day after day, the fasted method to get the vaccine is through a clinical trial and it makes it nice too because there’s never a charge for being in one,” Klein said.

If you participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial and find out you didn’t receive the actual vaccination, you can still receive the vaccine once it’s available.

“If a vaccine becomes available, every company has said that they will break the blinds so they can give the patient the answer of whether or not they received the real vaccine,” Klein said. “Therefore, if they had been given the placebo then they can get the real vaccine available in the community.”

As for Borland, who falls in a lower risk group and likely won’t be vaccinated until late spring or early summer, she said she’s hopeful she received the real thing.

“You get paid to do it and you get a chance to skip the COVID-19 vaccination line,” she said. “I got protected a little earlier than people in my eligibility group would.”

For more information on how to sign up for a COVID-19 trial, visit https://heartlandresearch.com/studies/healthy-volunteers/

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