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“I had the strongest antibodies” - Sen. Steve Daines touts vaccine trial success

Published: Dec. 28, 2020 at 8:00 AM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Two effective COVID-19 vaccines are being spread around the country in record time, but only because of the efforts of scientists and willing trialists. Thousands threw their hats in the ring to get the vaccine before it was approved for widespread distribution, including Senator Steve Daines (R-MT).

“My mom called me up one day back in August and said that Pfizer was actually doing a trial in Bozeman,” said Daines.

Bozeman, MT is Daines’ hometown and also a hotspot for COVID-19 in 2020. When then-leading vaccine candidate Pfizer set up a trial in the Rocky Mountain city, Daines wanted to give it a shot.

“My wife and I went on and enrolled online, we were accepted in the trial, and I was able to get the vaccine on August 27,” said Daines.

Daines did not know at the time if he got the placebo or the actual vaccine, but he says he wanted to participate in hopes of showing Montanans the process is safe and effective. The senator says he still does not officially know if he got the vaccine, but his immune levels skyrocketed in the weeks after the shots.

“I had the strongest antibodies. In fact the Pfizer vaccine gives you stronger antibodies than if you contract COVID-19 and resolve it naturally,” said Daines.

These trials rely on thousands of Americans like Daines trusting science before a thorough approval process. With many vaccine skeptics in this country, former Food and Drug Administration official Peter Pitts says it is crucial to get these tests right to flush out any doubt that might exist.

“Without people participating in trials, rolling up their sleeves for the good of science, you have no innovation,” said Pitts.

Pitts says one common hurdle in immunization trials is a shortage of volunteers. He says that was not the case for COVID-19 vaccine trials, which was one of the key reasons the approval processes moved quickly. Pitts stresses the need for diversity in the trials and making them represent the nation in which the shots will be distributed.

“Convince people that the reason this trial is relevant to you isn’t just because the science says so, but because people like you have participated in this trial,” said Pitts.

Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are the two that currently have emergency approval from the FDA.

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