COVID Vaccine: Trials & Tribulations

Believe it or not, it is finally the last month of 2020. In a year where so much has gone wrong, it would not be unfair to believe that there is no way to salvage it. However, with the recent developments in the world of COVID vaccines, it might finally be possible to turn things around.

To find out more about the trial process that is being used to test the effectiveness of the novel COVID vaccine, The Blue and White spoke to someone who is actually a part of that process. Mrs. Brown, an Apopka teacher of varying levels of English and Debate, gave some insight on the topic. “I expressed interest via email in the Astra Zeneca trial when I heard Orlando Immunology was doing a study. My brother, who is a scientist, researched it before we committed. He and I are both doing it.” She went on to say that she was “accepted quickly after a health screening, likely because as a teacher I have a lot of exposure.” Mrs. Brown told The Blue and White that she received her first injection before Thanksgiving and that she will be part of the study for two years. “I am doing this because someone has to,” she said.

Photo credit to Dado Ruvic/REUTERS

When the United States’ first human trials for a potential COVID vaccine began back in March, no one could have predicted that effective vaccines would be ready and even approved for use in the U.S. That previous statement is, of course, referring to the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use on the 11th of December. On the topic of that speedy development, The Blue and White spoke to senior Jonathan Morris. “To me, the idea that the vaccine came out too fast is not that big of a deal. I have faith in the code of ethics that the scientific community believes in, and I know that most vaccine makers can follow this protocol. The vaccine progression revives a sense of human achievement that has felt inconsequential or unnoticeable in recent years.” While somewhat skeptical, senior Jamya Davis contributed a similar sentiment. “I think it’s really interesting. On one hand I think it was almost too fast…Yet, I understand that medical technology has really progressed, allowing for a quick vaccine, especially considering how it has affected everyone in every aspect globally. There was a lot of pressure for a vaccine, so here we are.”

Photo credit to Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images

While it can sometimes be easy to fall prone to optimism in such a dark year, it is important to consider all aspects of this new vaccine. With this vaccine being as new as it is, it is not entirely unreasonable to be worried about side effects in either the short or long term. Jamya, for example, said that she would not get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available, stating that she would “rather wait and see the effects it has on the public,” such as “if it really works, if COVID cases go down, any side effects, will it work better in one group as opposed to the other, etc.” On the other side of that spectrum, Jonathan said “I would probably have more enthusiasm than if it was only in trials, but I would still take it either way. I would feel like there was less risk than before, but I think I would take the risk of complications either way.”

In any case, Mrs. Brown had more to say on the topic of the vaccine. “I am not fearful of vaccines, and this one does not contain the live virus, a microchip, or fetal tissue–even though social media claims say otherwise.” To provide context for her willingness to be vaccinated, Mrs. Brown told The Blue and White the following: “My parents grew up in a time without vaccines; they remember the death and trauma from so many horrible diseases. They also remember the church bells ringing when a vaccine for polio was found. My parents are in ministry, and to them, God has worked through gifted doctors and scientists to ease human suffering. This has influenced me tremendously. Our family is pro-vaccine and pro-science. Vaccines do often have side effects, but a couple of days feeling ill is worth getting our lives back and stopping the terrible toll of COVID-19.”

In the end, it’s important to realize that the purpose of the vaccine is not to divide people. The effort to resolve 2020’s global crisis is one that should be bringing about a sense of camaraderie that will allow us to pull together and move past it. While this newspaper is unable to predict the future, The Blue and White hopes that the vaccine is successful, nonetheless. The impact obviously won’t be immediate, but hopefully 2021 will at least be somewhat better.