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Huntington woman shares experience with COVID-19 vaccine trial

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 8:39 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - As COVID-19 cases climb across the U.S., pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is working to test a new vaccine, and early results show it’s more than 70 percent effective.

Mary Smirl, who’s from Huntington, says she and her four family members are participating in the trial, held in Charleston.

“That’s all we want to do is make a difference if we can and get people back to work,” Smirl said.

Smirl’s daughter tested positive for COVID-19 in March.

“My middle child got COVID and was very sick. And now has bounced back and is doing great. They had it in March,” Smirl said. “Ever since they recovered they have been donating plasma once a week. We feel so proud of them for that. That’s helping, and that’s doing something.”

Inspired by her daughter’s actions, Smirl wanted to do her part. An ad on Facebook looking for vaccine trial candidates led her to apply. She was contacted and told she would be a participant in the AstraZeneca vaccine trial.

“I said ‘let’s roll up the sleeve and do it. And the injection was painless,” Smirl said. “I didn’t even feel it. It was less than the flu shot.”

AstraZeneca reports that every two out of three people will receive the vaccine during the four-week trial. On the first day, you receive one shot, and then on day 36, you head back for a second shot.

The trial is a double-blind study, meaning even doctors running the trials are unaware of who receives the vaccine versus a placebo filled with saline.

The first few days Smirl, says she had some symptoms, but now feels back to herself on Day 11.

AstraZeneca reported that only 10 percent of vaccine trial participants had side effects after their first injection.

“I had a fever of 100.5, and I went to bed feeling flu-like. I woke up at 4 a.m. the next day and my fever had broken. I took some ibuprofen and the rest of the day, I just felt cruddy,” Smirl said.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not yet approved by the FDA.

Participants are financially compensated for their participation. They can enroll in either the four-week trial or two-year trial and will be monitored to study their immunity and antibodies to the virus.

AstraZeneca is just one of several companies developing a possible vaccine for COVID-19.

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