Fran Redic is normally pretty nervous about medical stuff. She’s had a few surgeries -- on her rotator cuff, her sinuses and a lumpectomy -- and she worried a lot about anesthesia.
“My brain goes first to all of the complications,” Redic said. “I always go to, ‘What are the side effects? What are the bad things that can happen?’”
But with the coronavirus pandemic, the 55-year-old South Charlotte resident has a different attitude. When she learned that her doctor’s office, Tryon Medical Partners, would be one of about 90 locations in the U.S. participating in a COVID-19 vaccine study, she called the office and left a voicemail. She wanted to sign up.
“I’d like to do something to help everybody who’s struggling. And when I read about the trial, I thought maybe that was some small, tiny thing I could do to help,” she said.
Redic is among more than 1,500 people in Charlotte vying for a chance to participate in the nationwide trial of the vaccine developed by the company Moderna and the National Institutes of Health. The Phase 3 trial, or third round of tests, will enroll at least 30,000 people across the country. A spokesman for Tryon said the medical practice plans to enroll between 350 and 500 people.
The vaccine has a small portion of the coronavirus called a spike protein. It’s been shown to help the immune system make antibodies to fight off the virus and appeared safe in the first 45 people who received it, according to a recent preliminary report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Participants will get two shots about 28 days apart -- either the test vaccine or a placebo.
They will have to regularly record their symptoms and temperature as well as provide periodic blood samples for two years after they get the shots. Scientists will check those samples for immune system substances like antibodies.
Participants and Tryon Medical Partners are both compensated for the study participation but a Tryon spokesman would not disclose the specific amounts.
Redic has not been selected for the study yet. She said she’s a little concerned about possible side effects which include fever, headache and muscle aches -- but she said someone needs to volunteer.
“All the medications we have and all of the advancements in medication come because there’s human trials. I mean, someone does it,” Redic said, adding that she is eager to help get life back to normal.
“I’d like to be able to go out to eat again, you know, meet friends. I’d like to go sit in a bar somewhere and have a drink. I’d like to go to yoga or go to the gym,” she said.
Redic said she’s sad for what people have missed because of the virus. In the spring, her daughter was forced to cut short her study-abroad trip to Denmark. Her son’s high school graduation was canceled. But Redic said she knows she’s relatively lucky and is especially worried about people less fortunate than her family.
Anaya Truss-Williams, a rising junior at the University of Maryland from the Mint Hill area, is also hoping to be picked to participate in the vaccine trial’s Charlotte location.
The coronavirus upended Truss-Williams’ life in March when she got stuck on campus after deciding to stay for spring break. She ended up calling an Uber to help her move apartments -- twice.
“I had to get an Uber XL and just like, give them a really good tip for helping me get all of my stuff in,” Truss-Williams said.
Now, she is back in the Charlotte area for about a month, though she said she plans to return to campus in the fall. Her classes will all be online. Truss-Williams said the coronavirus has made her feel anxious and helpless, and she said participating in the vaccine study would give her some hope.
“Even if they give me a placebo, I think that in my heart I’ll still feel better knowing that they’re working toward this ... that things are going to return to a new normal eventually,” Truss-Williams said.
The Moderna vaccine is one of about 25 COVID-19 vaccines currently being tested in humans. The Food and Drug Administration said in June that a coronavirus vaccine would have to protect at least 50% of vaccinated people to be considered effective.
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