Covid Vaccine Trial Diary – Chapter 3

Covid 19 Vaccine Trial Diary

Now we wait. Cade called on Thursday, so I guess that Thursdays are our check-in day after all. He asked the same questions that I input into the app, minus the temperature. I’m still feeling great. No side-effects.

I guess the challenge they have is participants who make changes to their lives that affect the efficacy of the trial. It sounds like there are people constantly failing out of the test group. I guess my boring existence and adherence to a daily regimen still is keeping me in the data pool.

So what exactly is this Moderna vaccine that I have a 50% chance of getting?

Let me paraphrase a May, 2020 article in the Financial Times. Why the Financial Times? It had one of the most cogent and brief descriptions of what the drug is and how it works.

MRNA-1273 is the working name of Moderna’s vaccine. The mRNA in the name means messenger RNA, which carries the genetic formula for the coding of a specific protein. In this vaccine, the particular mRNA used codes for the most distinguishing feature of the SARS-CoV2 — the spike protein — which is also the appendage that the virus uses to enter the cell and replicate.

(With me so far? What they are saying is that the vaccine has the same genetic code as Covid19.)

The vaccine, when injected into a person, codes for the spike protein. Thus even without introducing an attenuated (recognisable but not harmful) virus into the body, the body learns what the virus looks like and arms itself with the antibodies to act against it.

(So, I’m not getting a shot of the virus. I’m getting a shot of the DNA code, which seems to tell my body to create soldiers to fight Covid19 anyway.)

Moderna says that the mRNA, on entering the body, shows an immune response similar to what happens when you get Covid. Reported side effects include chills and redness around the area where you got the shot. I didn’t get chills.

That’s how the vaccine is supposed to work. I will probably get blood draws at points along the way after my second shot, two weeks from now, to see if and how long an immune response exists.

What dangers do I face? I’m in Phase 3 of the trial, so they have pretty much determined that the shot won’t typically kill you. My own history with immunizations is un-remarkable. I’ve been getting shots and sugar cubes since elementary school. Vaccines work for me. I’m not dead and according to my friends, the shots have not dramatically affected my personality. (I’m just naturally weird.) Colleen and I forced our kids to get them. We believe that for most people; they make a difference and can save lives.

And what if something bad happens and I end up dying? So what? I’m 65. My blessings have been miraculous, manifold and undeserved. I’ve made enough trouble and hopefully a few positive differences in other people’s lives. If things go south, at least there will be enough to fill an obituary. The insurance will pay out. And in less than two decades, I will have faded to nothing more than an entry on someone’s Ancestry.com family tree.

And, anyway, I’ll be dead and won’t care.

Colleen and I learned from our cancer experience that every day is truly a gift. You live in the moment. You roll with the punches. Some people will love you. Others will hate you. Many won’t understand you. All that matters is how you feel about what you have done today to leave the world in a little better place than you’ve found it. Most days you won’t do much. But the consistency of the attempt and the experiences along the way make a life. Not the outcomes.

May we all discover and pursue our purpose and surround ourselves with fellow travelers who inspire us to be the best humans we can be.

Wow, this report has degenerated into philosophical gobbledygook. Sorry about that!