Newport News couple taking part in Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — As the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine appears to be nearing a finish line, a local couple is watching developments closely.

Steve and Christine Eldred of Newport News say they’re participating in Pfizer pharmaceutical’s “phase 3” trial.

“We saw an article in the New York Times that Johnson & Johnson was looking for volunteers for their ‘phase 3,'” says Christine, “so we sent in the information and didn’t hear anything. But Steve mentioned to a friend of his, a doctor in Richmond, that we did that. The doctor said ‘Ha! My clinic was actually picked to do the Pfizer one. Would you like to do that?’ We said ‘sure! Why not?'”

The couple says things have been going well so far.

“I feel great,” says Christine. “I’ve been waiting to feel some kind of side effects because that would mean, maybe, I got the real one. But I haven’t felt anything.”

There have been no side effects for Steve, either.

Both have been going through a thick packet of details about what to expect during the trial.

“This particular Pfizer/VionTech vaccine is a two-shot regimen. And we’ve had both shots, the last was a week ago today. So, if we were going to have side effects, it would have shown by now. The phase 3 clinical trials, which is what we’re in the middle of doing, will go on for quite some time. We have to give blood periodically; we’re looking for antibodies.”

Steve and Christine are among some 30,000 participants in Pfizer’s phase 3 trial. Steve says they wanted to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

“And, we thought that — as many people as can pitch in and make this thing happen expeditiously and accurately, the better off we’ll all be.”

Steve said they each have about a 50-50 chance because in the phase 3 study, half of the people get a placebo and the Eldreds don’t know whether they actually got the vaccine. If they did receive it, and it works, they should be immune.

So far, so good. No side effects, and, no virus.

We’ll keep you posted.

The Pfizer vaccine is one of several under development. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and top executives of eight other companies competing to make COVID-19 vaccines and treatments pledged in September they wouldn’t bend to political pressure to release a vaccine before it’s proven to be safe, saying they will “stand with science.”

Bourla reemphasized that pledge on Thursday after President Trump’s claim in this week’s debate that the U.S. was “weeks away from a vaccine.” Top U.S. federal health officials have repeatedly said that a vaccine is unlikely to be available widely until mid-2021.

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