ALLEN, Texas – The fire chief in the Collin County city of Allen reported mild side effects after taking part in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial.
Chief Jonathan Boyd volunteered to be a part of the drug maker’s human trial. He does not know if the two shots he got were the vaccine or a placebo but he said he developed a low-grade fever afterward.
Moderna reported on Monday that its experimental vaccine may be almost 95% effective against COVID-19.
A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own vaccine looked 90% effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.
“It was a lot better than I expected. I would have been excited for efficacy around 60%. I’m optimistic we will find a way out of this either with the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine,” Chief Boyd said.
Both Moderna’s shots and the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate are so-called mRNA vaccines, a brand-new technology. They aren’t made with the coronavirus itself, meaning there’s no chance anyone could catch it from the shots. Instead, the vaccine contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus.
“There are many, many questions still remaining,” including how long protection lasts and if the first vaccines to emerge work as well in older people as in the young, said WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan. “We also hope the clinical trials will continue to collect data, because it’s really going to be important for us to know in the long term.”
The vaccine from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna is among 11 candidates in late-stage testing around the world, four of them in huge studies in the United States. Collins stressed that more U.S. volunteers are needed for those studies.
Chief Boyd said he hopes that his experience will convince people to get the vaccine when it is approved for the public.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.