First Person to Receive Coronavirus Trial Vaccine has finally Spoken


17 April 2020

The First Person to Receive Coronavirus Trial Vaccine has finally Spoken





The injection, applied to the left shoulder, lasted only a few seconds. But with it came the hopes of a world locked in a battle with coronavirus and no small amount of personal risk.
Jennifer Haller, a 44-year-old mother of two, did not flinch in the corner of the Seattle laboratory as the man in a face mask and blue gloves made the injection.
She had made up her mind long before the morning in March on which she became the first person in any country to receive a possible vaccine for Covid-19, according to US researchers.




Weeks earlier Ms Haller, an operations manager at a tech start-up, had spotted a call-out for participants in the historic trial on Facebook. She decided to opt-in.
“Even at that time we were all feeling so helpless,” she told The Telegraph from her self-isolation in Washington state. “There was nothing I could do to stop this global pandemic. Then I saw this opportunity come up and thought: ‘Well, maybe there is something I can do to contribute.’”





Looking on as things once taken for granted – freedom of movement, the right to work – began to disappear under the shadow of Covid-19, the trial offered something tangible. “It gave me some sense of control,” Ms Haller said. “We’re all so out of control and helpless. This just gave me something that I could hold on to that could be helpful.”




The final yes was not instantaneous, however. As she went through the medical checks needed to get approved for the trial, concerns were raised by her friends and family. Her husband wondered whether it really was safe. The couple had allowed their son to take part in a few medical studies while an infant, but this was different.




The trial, run by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, would involve two doses of an experimental vaccine being given 28 days apart, then a year of monitoring.




The vaccine, named mRNA-1273, had been tested on animals and showed promise. This was the first time it would be used on a human.
The trial would not actually involve injecting any part of Covid-19 itself, a point Ms. Haller used to reassure her concerned loved ones. But that did not guarantee a smooth ride.
The 45 pages of disclaimers given beforehand spelled out the uncertainties, not least that participants could be more vulnerable to catching coronavirus afterward. She signed anyway. “There was a tonne of risks involved. But I’m a real positive person and the benefits of this far outweighed any risks in my mind,” she said.




It is hard to over-exaggerate just how much is riding on this trial, and scores of similar ones now taking place across the world.

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