Two Omaha doctors participate in vaccine trial

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -There are still some unknowns about COVID-19 vaccines, such as when people will need booster shots.

Scientists are working hard to answer that question. And two local infectious disease specialists are playing a role.

Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan and Dr. David Quimby are infectious disease specialists at CHI Health. They knew right away how important a vaccine would be.

Last July, they enrolled in a Moderna vaccine trial.

“If I’m honestly pushing for how we need to do vaccine research and how it’s good to do that I need to put my money where my mouth is,” Dr. Quimby said.

Now Dr. Quimby and Dr. Vivekanandan are moving forward in the trials. They have both received a booster dose. This time around, they said the symptoms after the vaccine were much less severe.

“My third shot — my booster shot — was nothing like when I got the original vaccine. I felt like I was at work, I was a little tired, a little not myself, but it wasn’t like when I got the second shot,” Dr. Vivekanandan said. ”The booster shot was much better.”

The vaccine trial in which they’re participating isn’t the only one happening in Omaha. By early autumn, Quality Clinical Research will launch a new trial.

They will have 70 people enrolled for the Pfizer booster trial, and participants will be asked to do something different this time .

“Part of this trial we will be testing for antibodies, and that’s going to tell us if they still have the COVID vaccine in them,” said Seneca Harrison, CEO of Quality Clinical Research. “And if they do, that gets marked down ‘Yes, this person has been in the study for nine months or six months and they still have the antibody.’”

Many questions still need to be answered, but both doctors say mRNA vaccine trials like these will help fight off COVID variants.

“They figured the envelope for it, they can change the strand, and then hopefully make things happen really quickly if something changes,” Dr. Quimby said.

Participants in the booster shot vaccine trials will have to go back regularly to have their blood tested to check the effectiveness of the third shot.

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