ActivePaper Archive Maggi to be part of COVID-19 vaccine test - Mon Valley Independent, 8/5/2020

Maggi to be part of COVID-19 vaccine test

The Washington County commissioner volunteered for a clinical trial conducted by Pfizer.




Many have looked for ways to help throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but some have found the little things we all can do don’t feel like quite enough.

Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi has spent time volunteering with the food bank and with Meals on Wheels, but he felt he could be doing more.

“I didn’t know what else I could do,” Maggi said, adding that he enjoyed the volunteer work, but it didn’t quite strike the right chord with him.

He started hearing about the clinical trials for vaccines for COVID-19 and the volunteers those studies would need.

“I thought I’d look online and I saw they were looking for volunteers and I answered a questionnaire,” Maggi said.

The five-term commissioner said he got a call within 10 or 15 minutes and answered another battery of questions. About 10 or 15 minutes after that, he got another call with more questions, and — you guessed it — he got another call with more questions, this time it was a health assessment.

Just like that, he was accepted into a COVID-19 clinical trial being conducted by Pfizer.

Initially, he was supposed to start the trial Aug. 17, but the people running the study called last week and wanted to move it up. Today was the soonest Maggi could start, and the company would have taken him even sooner if he could have managed it.

“It sounds like they’re trying to fast track this,” Maggi said. “There is such a dire need that they’re trying to push this along as quickly as possible.”

He will make six trips to Columbus, Ohio, over the next two months, receiving two injections. Neither he nor the doctors involved in the trial will know whether he will receive the study vaccine or the placebo.

Today, he’ll spend about four hours at the facility. Each time he visits, there will be injections and blood work, Maggi said, and he just feels anticipation.

Pfizer is the second drug maker to announce it has begun phase-three testing of a vaccine to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The company’s website explains most medicines are used to help people who are already sick, but vaccines are intended to keep people from getting sick.

“Before a vaccine can be approved, it must be shown to be safe and effective through the clinical trial process. Every modern vaccine and medicine we have today was studied in hundreds to thousands of people before becoming available to the public,” according to Pfizer. On Tuesday, the total number of cases in the United States reached 4,698,818 and the total number of deaths stood at 155,204.

If the vaccine proves safe and effective, the U.S. government will pay $2 billion for the companies to produce 100 million doses for Americans.

Pfizer, along with German biotech company BioNTech, said this study will include up to 30,000 people in 39 states and elsewhere around the world.

Drug maker Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also launched a phase-three trial that will also enroll about 30,000 people.

About 25 vaccines for the coronavirus are in the clinical testing phase around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

“I’m kind of excited about it,” Maggi said. “All you’re hearing about is COVID-19 and finally there is something a little positive and I have a real small part of making our country safe again hopefully and serving my country again hopefully.”

Maggi refers to his time as a U.S. Marine, a state trooper and a sheriff before being elected as a county commissioner.

In addition to those roles, Maggi likes to ride his Harley-Davidson and said with a chuckle that his wife and daughter say he’s driving them to an early grave.

“I push the envelope a little bit; they say I have to stop,” Maggi said.

He said it’s up to each person to make a decision on whether participating in a clinical trial like this is for them.

“It’s for them to figure out how much of a risk they want to take in life,” Maggi said. “Life is a risk. I feel this is relatively safe, but everything we do right now is a risk. I just think this is something I can do.”