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Utahns helped test out Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 10:04 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 00:19:27-05

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — As biotech company Moderna announces it is one step closer to finalizing a COVID-19 vaccine, one Utah man is sharing his experience of testing out that vaccine in a clinical study.

Drew Jones has been so pleased with the process that he has now signed his two teenage sons up for the next phase of the study.

Jones has a personal connection to China, where the coronavirus pandemic originated.

"I had kind of tracked it all across the world. My wife's from China. I've actually been to the city called Wuhan," he said. "And so when it came to the U.S., I said, 'I'm taking this seriously.'"

Jones, a dentist, described how he took leave back in March because his age and medical conditions left him in the at-risk group.

A few months ago, he saw an ad for a COVID-19 vaccine study taking place at a lab in Cottonwood Heights.

"The fact that we are here in Salt Lake and have this trial being done, I thought, 'Whoa, that's great!'" he recounted.

Jones called and signed up for the Moderna Phase 3 COVE double-blind study. His wife, he said, took part in the Pfizer vaccine trial conducted by the same laboratory.

He wasn't sure if either of them was injected with the actual vaccine, or a placebo instead.

Jones relayed how he received shots at two appointments 28 days apart.

"I came home, and it was nothing. A little soreness in the arm, just like a flu shot," he remembered. "They gave me a lot of papers to indicate if had a fever, or chills, body aches, other symptoms to be aware of."

The lab gave Jones a phone to keep track of any symptoms in an app, and a thermometer to check his temperature. Jones said he felt tired the next day, and a bruise developed on his sore arm. Other than that, he said he didn't notice anything different.

After the shots, Jones talked about how an independent test outside of the study showed he developed COVID-19 antibodies. He indicated it will be some time before the study confirms if he indeed got the vaccine.

After seeing Moderna's Monday announcement of a 94.5 percent efficacy rate of the vaccine, Jones said he would have no hesitation about it.

"I would repeat it in a minute," he said. "And I think I can only testify for myself saying it's safe, it's effective, and I wouldn't worry about it once it becomes available."

In a way, Jones is repeating it — he said he called Monday to enroll his 13- and 16-year-old sons in the next phase of Moderna's trial, which he explained begins in December and will test the vaccine on people under 18 years of age.

Moderna coronavirus vaccine shows promising results