The race for a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, officially termed COVID-19, is on. As the number of cases all over the world continues to rise, pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions are scrambling to create an immunization shot that might halt the spread of the virus.
So yesterday, at 8 a.m., researchers at Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle began the first test in humans of an experimental vaccine for the new coronavirus, reports the Associated Press.
While just four people were given the shot yesterday, in total 45 participants will receive it during this trial, which is meant to determine its safety, according to The New York Times. Other studies will assess how well it works. Even if all goes well, it’ll likely take a year for the vaccine, which is made by Moderna, Inc., to become available.
The very first person to receive this shot was Jennifer Haller from Seattle, a 43-year-old operations manager at a small tech company, and the parent to two teens. She doesn’t have the virus, but she volunteered to take part in the trial in order to help fight the disease.
She spoke over the phone to Refinery29 about what it feels like to be a human guinea pig in something so big that it’s brought the world’s largest economies to its knees and quarantined large swaths of people in major metropolitan cities across the globe, from Milan to San Francisco.
Refinery29: So how did you hear about this trial, and what made you sign up?
Jennifer Haller: “It was about two weeks ago that they put out a call for volunteers. A friend of mine posted it on Facebook, and I was looking for something to do that could be helpful, so I immediately filled out the survey. The next day I got a phone call to review my health history.
“I passed all those qualifications, and went in the next day to do a physical exam, a blood draw, and get more into my health history. And apparently, it was all good and then I got the call to get the first vaccine — which I did, yesterday morning.”
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