Toronto woman happy to volunteer for COVID-19 vaccine tests

Liz Braun

Cecie Elnicki has no issue being a guinea pig for a new COVID-19 vaccine.

In fact, the Etobicoke resident may be part of two different vaccine tests this summer as researchers race to find a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

Elnicki views the tests as a sign of hope and she’s happy to volunteer.

And it’s not her first rodeo.

The mother of two daughters has been a part of other clinical trials for Manna Research, the company that contacted her for the COVID-19 tests.

Reached by phone Thursday, Elnicki sounded surprised that her willingness to volunteer in the vaccine trials has attracted media attention. Someone from Manna contacted her to see if she was interested in taking part. No big deal.

“Of course I was! I looked at it as a positive thing,” Elnicki said.

Her husband has also been a volunteer in past trials.

“This is how medical research goes forward,” she said.

And no, she does not feel like a hero for taking a jab in the arm.

“One of my daughters was a frontline health worker when SARS came through. Her husband works in a critical care unit,” Elnicki said. “They’re doing their bit. And I think of someone like my father, who was 18 when he fought in the First World War, in the 21st battalion — these people are heroes to me.

“I’m just really interested in medical things, and if I can help, why not?”

There doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary about Elnicki’s physical health — she’s had a few surgeries over the years — and, she says, “I generally feel healthy.”

Her positive attitude, however, is evident even in a phone call. Elnicki is energetic and engaging in conversation; she has a no-nonsense, good-humoured style.

Is she scared about doing the COVID-19 vaccine testing?

Not at all.

“It’s not as if they’ll give you something in these tests that’s going to kill you! They are very careful about recording things,” she said. “When I did testing for C. difficile, I had a special tool to measure the inoculation site. You had to record things all day long.”

Someone who heard Elnicki talking about the vaccine trials on Newstalk 1010 Thursday morning posted a semi-snarky tweet about the fact that she’ll be paid for doing it.

“Yes I will, and it will be a nominal amount,” said Elnicki, who doesn’t use twitter herself but has instructed her journalist daughter to respond.

“And I’ll give that person twice as much as whatever I get if they come along and test with me,” she said.

Manna Research is indeed looking for testing volunteers. According to Nazneen Qureshi, director of patient engagement, there’s a variety of trials coming up and the company is actively seeking people who would like to take part in medical testing. Those interested can email research@lmcmanna.com.


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