Maryland man treated with experimental COVID-19 vaccine says it may be working

A Maryland man who was one of the first people to be vaccinated with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine through Pfizer/Biontech says the vaccine may be working. 

FOX 5 first interviewed David Rach, a graduate immunology student, back in May.

A University of Maryland's School of Medicine spokesperson is now telling FOX 5 that Phase 1 and 2 early results from the first roughly 40 individuals in this multi-site study show some signs of promise and some signs of an immune response. This means that the patients have generated antibodies that stop the virus from being able to affect cells. 

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"Going into the trial, I wasn't certain the vaccine would be effective at producing an immune response, because we were the first people being tested with the vaccine... At the same time, just because I have antibodies doesn't mean you are protected against the virus, So i'm monitoring my symptoms every day," said Rach.  

It's also important to remember that this was a randomized blind trial – meaning that some participants received a placebo saline solution and some actually got the vaccine. The participants don't know which one they received, but based on his blood tests, his symptoms and the fact that he's a scientist in training, Rach says he's confident he got the vaccine.

Researchers are also comparing the immune response of those vaccinated with patients who have recovered from covid in the hospitals... and are seeing some promising results there as well.

As for safety, Rach says the research shows some fever in participants with the low dose of the vaccine, but no serious symptoms.

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Another important factor with a trial, is that the participant is surrounded by the virus. Rach says  he's trying to get out more. 

"I'm starting to move around, going to and from work... I still do my own grocery runs- and I'm still social distancing so I can do my own part," said Rach. 

This is one of many vaccine trials underway.   In July, the University of Maryland School of Medicine is expected to take part in a phase 3 trial for another covid 19 vaccine developed by Moderna. The focus will be to target the most vulnerable communities impacted by coronavirus-- the Latino and African American communities and older adults with underlying health issues.

For the first few months researchers will follow Rach closely and check in on him every 6, 12 months to see how long the antibodies last.  

If the trial proves to be successful, Pfizer promises to produce 100 million doses before the end of 2020 and more than a billion doses next year  


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