If you are like us here at Buddy, you are probably worn out by this COVID year and the havoc it has wreaked on our nation, communities, families and personal lives. Our heart goes out to families of loved ones who have lost their lives. To the essential workers for their daily struggles and all the businesses that have been permanently closed or are hanging on by a thread. In particular, our outdoor brethren, the guides, outfitters, ski areas, and event promoters who for a while were completely shut down.
What has made it particularly hard is that other than wearing a mask, social distancing and just doing the right thing, there has been little we could do as individuals to help stop this monster. How frustrating for a people that are known for their resourcefulness to be handcuffed in such a fashion. We are simply not that kind of people!
That is why when I learned that a friend of Buddy, who runs a company named Clinical Research Partners, was doing a trial for the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, and that they needed participants, I signed up to volunteer. Dr. Bob Call is a great supporter of our efforts here at Buddy and I completely trust his judgement. When he told me I had little to fear from taking part, I jumped on it immediately. Yes, I did so with a little trepidation, but I am over this whole thing and if there was something that I could do to fight back I had to do it.
All of these trials are conducted double-blind. This means a group of participants get the real vaccine and another group receives a placebo, but neither the researchers nor the participants know who’s in which group. In this particular trial, two thirds of the participants get the real vaccine, while the remaining third get a placebo. The trials last two years and participants are paid a small stipend for volunteering.
On the date of my initial visit, I spent the first 45 minutes getting a mini-physical and answering a lot of questions. Everything from lifestyle habits to medication I was taking and how I felt that morning. They also gave me an antibody and Covid test. If I had tested positive for either I would not have qualified to participate. Since I came back negative I was accepted and the next step was to get my first shot. The trial involves getting a shot on your first visit and then a second three weeks later.
Two nurses were present during the vaccination and it was a completely pain-free experience as far as shots go. I was asked to wait 15 minutes before leaving to see if I had any immediate reactions to the vaccine. As I didn’t, I was free to leave with the understanding that I should contact them if I had any concerning reactions.
As I was leaving the clinic I ran into two friends who were also volunteering. Over the course of the next week I spoke with at least another dozen friends who were participating as well. All had the same desire to do whatever they could to help in the fight to stop this madness.
As this is a blind trial, none of us knew if we had received the real thing or the placebo. We were told that if we received a real dose that side effects were possible. Some of my friends experienced deep fatigue, headaches, sweats and symptoms of a mild case of the flu. Others had no side effects at all. I had a slight headache, some unusual stiffness in my neck and a general malaise that is unusual for me. Was that just a placebo effect or did I get the real thing? I’ll find out once the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved or when I’m eligible to get a shot from one of the other approved companies. Also, once the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved, if I was given the placebo, I move to the very front of the line to get the real thing for having participated in the trial.
A week and a half has gone by since my shot and today the Pfizer vaccine is now being rolled out to the first-priority citizens. This is exceptional news. It can’t get distributed fast enough. The logistics behind the distribution is mind boggling. With the -80 degree temperature requirements to the coordination between Pfizer, DHL, FedEx, HHS, FDA, the military, and local pharmacies, this will be one of the largest logistic accomplishments in history. Our country has seen nothing like this since WWII.
While some have been going to great lengths to place blame on others for the spread, truth be told, we knew almost nothing about COVID-19 as a country, and it has taken time to learn. The blame game is pointless. Today, I’m proud to say that I’m an American, and that we as a people have rolled up our serves in every sector and did our best to do our best.
At Buddy we have been working remotely since early March, and will be doing so until we officially beat this thing. We are lucky that way. I did what I could do to help by stepping up for the vaccine trial. Was that Fearless? Perhaps. But it pales in comparison with the courage our frontline health workers and medical researchers have put on the line for our sake. It pales in comparison with the non-medical essential workers that have been keeping our nation operational and risking their lives daily. Our gratitude goes out to them and their families. They are truly the fearless ones!