coronavirus vaccine

What It's Like to Volunteer for Coronavirus Vaccine

NBC 7 Responds talked to a local researcher who volunteered to test a potential vaccine

NBC Universal, Inc.

A vaccine is one of the surest ways of stopping the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, they take time to develop and require a lot of tests. Companies and governments around the world are testing at least 120 potential vaccines. One of the test subjects is a local scientist.

"I'm a human guinea pig in a sense," said Dr. Carl Ware, an Immunologist and Researcher at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. "I joined the trial a little over a month ago, got my first shot. Yesterday, I went in got my second shot."

Ware isn't your typical test subject. As an immunologist he studies how the body fights and controls infections, and even helps study and develop drugs to help the body fight them off. He says he didn't think twice about signing up for the trial.

"I'm an immunologist, I'm an experimentalist," Ware said. "This is really putting it where your money is, to do a volunteer experiment."

Ware is a scientist, but because he is over 65, he also falls into the susceptible category. That's what made him a good participant in the study.

"The trial is a double-blind trial," Ware said. "So I don't know if I got the real deal or if I got the placebo. It really doesn't make any difference. It's science!"

The experimental vaccine he is taking does not contain any coronavirus, so he felt it was safe. Instead, it contains a small protein that the virus uses to infect cells. As a member of the trial, he reports any potential symptoms daily and will have his blood taken in six months.

Ware is one of 30,000 people in the study and says a big group is vital to the trial's results.

"It's kind of like voting," Ware said. "You've got to participate in voting as a group. That's what makes democracy and that's what makes good science."

Ware's lab is not working on this vaccine, and this is his first time ever participating in a clinical trial.

"As an experimentalist, a scientist, an immunologist, this was the perfect situation for me to join in," Ware said.

When a vaccine is approved, Ware says he will quickly sign up to get it. Especially since he has a granddaughter in Australia that he is eager to visit.

"To not take a vaccine is putting your life at risk," he said.

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