Rock Hill man shares experience with Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial ahead of three-week FDA review

Local man takes part in Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial

ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - We could be just weeks away from the approval of a new COVID-19 vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson has applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA. The data is encouraging. The company says its single dose vaccine is 66 percent effective in preventing moderate and severe cases. It also claims the one dose 85 percent effective against the most severe symptoms.

A South Carolina man, Garrett Frent, has helped make those results possible. He feels he helped by being part of this clinical trial and hopes a new vaccine could help turn the tide of this pandemic. So many people asked Frent why he would volunteer for something that is basically an experiment. He says Thursday’s announcement was the exact reason.

Anyone coming across Frent will usually see him buried in his phone. He might look like he is sending a text or checking his email, but he is doing something much more important. He is filling out his daily Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine trial log.

”Feels excited to be a part of it,” says Frent.

Frent is one of thousands of data points the Food and Drug Administration committee will look over. The details are endless. He says Johnson & Johnson spent three hours asking about his medical history before giving the shot. His logs ask him everything from his oxygen level to blood pressure.

”They dug in deep in my medical history,” he says. “So it’s really detailed so it’s not just like they are just throwing me in there.”

The vaccine cannot come soon enough. Dr. Michael Kacka, a DHEC physician, says Phase 1B might be the state’s biggest group yet. Those are frontline workers like grocery workers, first responders and teachers. However, the limited doses make the timeline unclear.

”We may see additional vaccines available which may significantly change hopefully in a positive way the amount of vaccine available and will certainly allow us to do much more groups,” says Kacka.

Prepare to wait more though. The FDA committee is giving itself three weeks to review. It is time Frent says is worth waiting.

”I want them to look at everything. I want them to make sure no one is missing anything so no one could possibly get sick so I’d rather them take their time and make sure everything is right. Yeah like they did with me,” says Frent.

Johnson & Johnson is rolling this out as a single dose shot, which is 66 percent effective for preventing moderate and severe cases.

The FDA says the COVID-19 vaccines have to be at least 50 percent effective to get approval.

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