Volunteers fight virus by testing new experimental vaccine

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller, left, the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Monday, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE, Wash. – The first people to roll up their sleeves to receive an experimental vaccine for the coronavirus say they were inspired to help because they wanted to do more to fight the disease than wash their hands and work from home.

Three of the study participants spoke to The Associated Press on Monday following the trial's first injections in Seattle. They said the shots were no more painful than an ordinary season flu vaccine.

Some will get higher dosages than others to test how strong the dose should be. They will be checked for side effects and have their blood tested to determine whether the vaccine is revving up their immune systems.

The volunteers said they weren't acting in hopes of protecting themselves. They understand their role is a small part of what could be an 18-month hunt for a successful shot that could be distributed widely.

They work in the tech industry and in health research. Two have children, and all three are working from home to slow the spread of COVID-19.

They are a 43-year-old operations manager at a small tech company, a 46-year-old network engineer at Microsoft and a 25-year-old editorial coordinator at an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.

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Jennifer Haller, 43, still cuts up apples for her 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter each morning, even though the teenagers now make their own lunches. She leaves for work before they head to school on a normal day.