SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It was an anxious unblinding for Dawn Baker today. Nearly six months after entering Meridian Clinical Research’s COVID-19 vaccine trial, she was about to learn if she got the vaccine or placebo.
“We have good news. You have received the vaccine. YAY!”
Clearly, it was exciting to learn the truth.
“It’s a tremendous load off my shoulder. My worst nightmare had been you know getting sick, getting someone else sick and I just feel like I know that we’re not all protected because not everybody is vaccinated, but this makes you feel a little bit better about the situation we’re in so I just feel so hopeful,” Baker said.
Baker receive the first phase three shot in the entire country. Several criticized her for joining the trial while others, like Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp, praised her, but for her, it was never about what others thought, but about doing what was right.
“One of my church members who’s a doctor called me and said when she sat down to take her vaccine she burst into tears because she thought about me. She goes, you know, if people like you didn’t come forward, we never would have been here. So, you know I’m just overjoyed. I mean this is a feeling and experience I will never forget the good and the bad, but the good far outweighs the bad,” Baker said.
Baker was just one of about 100,000 people in the clinical trials. Dr. Paul Bradley, the chief investigator, says 50 percent got the vaccine like Baker while the other 50 got a placebo. The results so far have been interesting and positive.
“The human brain just never ceases to amaze me and an awful lot of the people who really thought that they had it, very exaggerated symptoms or unusual symptoms, had turned out in fact that they had placebo and it’s wonderful because at least in here we didn’t see any serious side effects,” Dr. Bradley said.
The trial will continue for a total of two years to see how long the vaccine lasts and how effective it remains, but Baker now has a 94.5 percent chance of avoiding COVID. Baker says the mild fever, chills and tiredness she felt after her second shot were worth it for that.
Dr. Bradley says he know hesitancy exists for the vaccine.
“We’re hearing it every day and from my standpoint it’s still really simple. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than this at this point as far as we know zero deaths from the vaccine, right, 400, almost 400,000 deaths from COVID. This doesn’t take a lot of thinking before you figure out which way I want to go,” Dr. Bradley said.
Baker says this was one of the most important decisions she has ever made, and the payoff was more than worth it as it will change the course of history. She encourages you to think through the decision too.
“I just always feel that if you use your head, follow your heart and if your genuine about wanting to help people, God will always make a way,” Baker said.
For those unlike Dawn in the placebo group, they were given the opportunity to get their vaccine after their unblinding as a thank you for their part in this groundbreaking research.