KC-area native participates in Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine trial

Posted at 8:07 PM, Nov 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 00:34:49-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The key to beating the coronavirus pandemic is a successful vaccine, according to Kansas City metro native Dr. Samir Patel.

"I just want to be at Arrowhead with Patrick Mahomes and 80,000 of my closest friends. Let’s hurry up and get this done," said Patel, who now lives in Atlanta and volunteered to participate in Pfizer’s clinical COVID-19 study.

As part of the trial, workers took his vitals and medical history and gave him a COVID-19 nasal swab.

"They gave me the first dose, and basically three or four weeks later I had to get a second dose,” Patel said.

A clinical director for a mental health facility, Patel said he did his research first, and wasn't worried about possible side effects, considering the steps Pfizer took even before testing moved to the human trial stage.

The pharmaceutical corporation first tested its vaccine on “non-human primates” and mice, and received encouraging results, according to a news release.

"We are at Stage Three now,” Patel said. “So, basically, I had seen the profile of what it could do. There weren’t really too many side effects.”

Patel said he is closely monitored and will continue to give blood samples to monitor for antibodies. He's hopeful his participation -- and that of other volunteers -- will enable the vaccine to receive emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

And Pfizer isn't the only vaccine showing promise.

Moderna, as well as Pfizer, have announced their vaccines are around 95% effective.

The flu vaccine, for comparison, is typically 40% to 60% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, health experts have said there will be some apprehension with such a fast roll-out.

"What I would tell anybody about any vaccine is, ‘We're not going to give unsafe vaccines in this country,’” Phil Griffin, deputy director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said. “And it's really important to listen to look at the data, to hear what the science has to say about it.”

For Patel, he said he suspects he received the vaccine and not a placebo in his blind trial because he had some aches and pains after the second dose, similar to the reaction some experience after the flu shot.

Otherwise, he said he hasn't experienced anything out of the ordinary, and encouraged others to take advantage of a vaccine once they're able.

"We need to stop the spread of the virus and we need to get back to normal,” Patel said. “And, if people don’t want to do it, just think about wanting to be around relatives who are compromised, and getting kids back to school. Let’s get back to normal, so to speak.”

While he doesn't know for sure if he received a vaccine, he said trial participants were told Pfizer would notify them as soon as the FDA approves emergency authorization. And, if given the placebo, Patel said he plans to be among the first lining up for the vaccine when it's available to the public.