Behind the scenes of the Johnson & Johnson two-dose COVID-19 vaccine trial in south Charlotte

Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 5:50 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine are continuing across the country and here in North Carolina.

The one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine could get FDA approval soon, but the company is still enrolling tens of thousands of patients across the country in another trial.

The American Health Research Network in south Charlotte is currently enrolling anyone age 60 and older for the Johnson and Johnson Ensemble 2 trial, which involves two shots.

Arthur Oudmayer got his first shot about a week ago. He does not know whether he got the placebo or the real deal.

“I felt fine,” Oudmayer told WBTV. “No site pain. A little bit of fatigue and slight headache in the evening. Same the next day with a slight temperature.”

In between appointments, he’s tracking symptoms on an app.

Dr. Selwyn Spangenthal is overseeing the trial.

He says it’s the same vaccine through Johnson and Johnson that could get FDA approval soon, except this one has two doses.

“To see whether you have better efficacy and whether the antibodies would last longer,” Dr. Spangenthal said.

So far, several hundred patients are taking part in the trial and they hope to get more signed up in the next couple of weeks.

“Anyone who is not able to get a vaccine, to me it’s a no brainer, because they have a 50 percent chance of getting the vaccine,” he said.

For Dr. Spangenthal, the work is personal.

“Our son-in-law in New York developed COVID-19 in March of 2020 and he was in hospital for 10 months,” he said. “He was initially severely ill on a ventilator, on an echmo machine, kept sedated, and unfortunately passed away 3 weeks ago.”

He dedicates his time to help others, but he does not want to take all of the credit.

“The coordinators at work here, the people who are doing this type of work, they are on the front lines of putting themselves at risk,” he said. “These are real heroes.”

They are heroes who could not do it without volunteers.

“We can’t afford to be thinking about ourselves,” Oudmayer said. “It’s a pandemic. It’s the whole world really.”

This study is unique because there are already vaccine options on the market. The goal is vaccination, so participants can be unblinded at any time.

If someone got the placebo but is eligible for the vaccine, they can go get it.

Patients can expect the first appointment for the first vaccine dose to last about an hour and a half. 29 days later, patients come back for a check up. 57 days later patients get the second shot.

For more information call 704-926-8030.

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