Covid-19 vaccine trial participants weigh in on early results


KING COUNTY — The first phase of a Covid-19 experimental vaccine trial is showing positive results, and the first injections in people happened here in the greater Seattle area.

Jennifer Haller was the first person to receive the experimental Covid-19 vaccine. She got her first injection March 16.

“The only side effect that I had was soreness at the site of injection. I felt really normal. It felt similar to the same experience I’ve had in the past with flu shots,” she said.

Neal Browning is a network engineer from Bothell. He was also one of the first few to test the experimental vaccine for safety.

“I knew it was important for me to step forward and say, ‘I’m a human being, too.’ This affects us all. If I can do this for the greater good, I should do that,” said Browning.

The experimental vaccine was developed by Moderna, a biotechnology company in Massachusetts.

After eight weeks of testing the vaccine in 45 people, the company is finding the vaccine is generally safe, well-tolerated and producing antibodies in eight of the candidates so far.

“They had produced successful amount of antibodies equal or surpassing what was present in people who had already contracted and gotten over Covid-19,” said Browning.

While the vaccine is showing positive results, both Haller and Browning said this potential layer of protection isn’t putting their guard down with stay home orders and social distancing still in effect.

“I don’t suppose I have any special immunity right now. I continue to live my life as I have been, as everybody else is,” said Haller. “I’m continuing to practice social distancing and wearing a face mask when I’m out in public.”

“Taking that risk and possibly infecting my family, it’s not something I’m willing to do, so while I may feel a little safer out there I don’t take any more risks than I normally would,” said Browning.

Both Haller and Browning received a low dose of the vaccine.

The next phase of the experimental vaccine trial will be led by the National Institute of Health, where researchers will determine if a low or medium dose is better suited for a definitive third trial in July.

“I was super happy and I’ve been kind of on Cloud 9 the whole time,” said Browning after learning early results were looking promising.

If everything goes smoothly, Moderna is ambitiously planning to ramp us vaccine production for the end of 2020 or early next year.

Experts in the field said it’s too soon to really know how effective Moderna’s experimental vaccine will be. It is one of eight companies worldwide testing Covid-19 vaccines in people.

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