Hundreds of volunteers in Cape Fear region helped to make COVID-19 vaccine a reality

Hundreds of volunteers in Cape Fear region helped to make COVID-19 vaccine a reality

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Hundreds of volunteers in Wilmington participated in the clinical trials that led to the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which started to roll out to hospitals across the country this week.

Dr. Kevin Cannon of Wilmington Health is the physician who is running the study in partnership with Accellacare, formerly PMG-Research of Wilmington.

He said 600 patients in Wilmington participated in the clinical trial for the Pfizer vaccine.

“I actually spoke to every single person that enrolled at time of randomization and pretty much all of them had a lot of pushback from their friends, from their neighbors, from their families, saying, ‘Why are you doing this? Why would you want to be a guinea pig?’ but it is really why we are here now is because of what they did, because they took that leap of faith three or four months ago. Never in our wildest expectations or dreams could we have hoped that the results could’ve been this positive.”

The studies showed the Pfizer vaccine more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.

In the study that Dr. Cannon oversaw, half of the participants received a placebo and half received the vaccine.

He said frontline healthcare workers who participated in the trial and received the placebo will be informed in the next few days and will be eligible to get the vaccine.

Over the next few months, other participants who got the placebo will be vaccinated as more doses of the vaccine are available.

In North Carolina, the state is largely relying on hospitals to execute the first vaccinations, providing the shot to 85,800 healthcare workers at highest risk for contracting the virus.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center announced on Tuesday, the facility anticipated it will receive 2,925 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday. The vaccines will be kept at the 17th Street campus and will be distributed to healthcare workers in the coming days.

Facts about the vaccine can be found here.

While these shots are going into arms across the state and the nation, the work is far from over to find vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

Dr. Cannon said vaccine trials continue in Wilmington, in hopes of finding a vaccine that does not have to be stored at such ultra-cold temperatures - which is required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. Dr. Cannon also said clinical trials for potential COVID-19 treatments are also underway.

If you are interested in signing up for a clinical trial, click here.

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