70-year-old volunteer shares COVID-19 vaccine trial experience

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 21:04:09-05

PHOENIX — An effort to study the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine is taking place in the Valley right now and the company conducting these trials says they are still looking for participants.

The Hope Research Institute is now conducting trials for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

With help from the U.S. military and funding provided by the White House initiative 'Operation Warp Speed,' a makeshift trailer was set up in a medical complex in North Phoenix early Thursday morning. Seventy-year-old Diana Brest is one of tens of thousands of volunteers participating in this trial nationwide.

Brest, who hates the rain, braved through the wet commute to make it to her appointment to get the vaccine that is still being tested right now.

"We need this, anything for the virus to help other people," said Brest, as she walked into the trailer to get her first shot.

Brest was inside the trailer for almost three hours. When she came out, she told ABC15 a big chunk of the time was spent going through paperwork. She also had to get a routine physical, answer questions about her medical history, get a blood test, and a nasal swab.

"This is the AstraZeneca study. It is a very exciting study, as you know, it's been going on in the U.K for some time now," said Dr. Nathan Alderson, the CEO and President of Hope Research Institute. The facility worked with companies and physician's groups to bring cutting edge clinical trials into the Valley. Dr. Alderson said most of this year has been focused on COVID-19 research.

"We've completed the Pfizer study, the Moderna study, now we're working with AstraZeneca, Janssen, as well as Novavax," said Alderson. He added that the AstraZeneca vaccine was now in its third phase of testing in the Valley, and stressed they still needed more volunteers.

"In an international pandemic to be involved in these studies has just been tremendous for us," said Dr. Alderson.

ABC15 has learned that participants in this study will receive two vaccines, a month apart from each other. Two-thirds of the participants will receive the actual COVID-19 vaccine. The rest will receive a placebo, which is basically a saline solution. Brest said she would not be told which shot she has received for a while.

"I love medical research. I think this is great. I felt you know, this is important to help everyone in the United States," said Brest.

Dr. Alderson says those involved in this study will have to monitor their symptoms and complete a diary or journal at home. Side effects included feeling like you have a mild case of the flu and soreness or pain at the injection site. Participants approved for the study will be monitored for two years.

Hope Research Institute will provide financial compensation to those who are selected, but Dr. Alderson calls it a small amount of money, to help pay for volunteer's travels and time. He stressed that should not be the reason one signs up for this type of research.

If you would like to enroll in this COVID-19 vaccine trial, please call 602-288-HOPE (4673) or you can sign up on their website by clicking here.

The FDA still has to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the United States. Company officials hope to have the vaccine for distribution in 2021.

AstraZeneca officials say their vaccine is more cost-effective and easier to store and transport than other alternatives out there right now. To learn more about the AstraZeneca vaccine, click here.