By Lauren Sieh
Staff reporter

As more vaccine trials are popping up with COVID-19, there has never been such a demand for participants.

One of Southwestern’s own, Ed Loeb, faculty athletic representative, has lent himself to the AstraZeneca vaccine trial through Kansas University Medical Center in Wichita.

Loeb said that he has been thinking about participating in a trial since August.

“I noticed that they [AstraZeneca] on a flash screen on the news said that they are now accepting volunteers. I thought, ‘Well, we’ll see what happens.’ I went to the website that they had on the news, and was able to sign up there. Everything just sort of happened after that,” said Loeb.

According to the New York Times coronavirus vaccine tracker, AstraZeneca started their vaccine study in May and soon entered combined Phases 1/2 and 2/3 during the summer. However, they halted their global trials for the first time on Sept. 6 to investigate a volunteer, who developed a form of inflammation called transverse myelitis.

Within a week of that investigation, they resumed the trials, only to halt them once again on Oct. 21, due to a volunteer dying of COVID-19. As of Oct. 23, the trials have now continued.

Loeb said that he is just waiting on blood test results to start the vaccine trial process, which he should receive any day now.

Melinda Current, professor of health and wellness promotion, explains the process of a vaccine trial and what Loeb might experience.

“A company will develop a vaccine. They will just give it to a very small amount of healthy people and look for any obvious side effects right away. That would be Phase I. After a period of time, they get to Phase II, which is a little bit larger, but still a pretty controlled group of healthy people that are like the target population, and they watched for side effects problems with that. Then they go to the Phase III trial, which is what a lot of the vaccines are in now. They will give half the people, the vaccine and half a placebo. So they’re both an injection. They[volunteers] are randomly assigned to groups. People that get the vaccine don’t know if they have given the vaccine or the placebo,” said Current.

During Phase III of a vaccine trial, there is a 50/50 chance that a volunteer gets the vaccine. However, AstraZeneca has decided 65 percent of volunteers will get the vaccine, said Loeb.

Loeb said there are different reasons why he wanted to participate in the vaccine trial.

“My selfish reason is that part of me just wanted the opportunity to get the vaccine as soon as possible. On the other side, I wanted to help in the process of getting the vaccine through as quickly as possible. The only way that was going to happen is if we had participants who were willing to take part in the trial,” said Loeb.

Loeb believes that participating in this trial will not affect his job at Southwestern.

“I think the only way that this might affect my current position, is if I were to get sick or have some sort of adverse reaction. It’s not going to be any different than any faculty member that might have gotten sick from COVID-19 or something else.”

“I am not apprehensive about this. I’m looking forward to being a part of it. I’m looking forward to just doing what I can to help medical trial boards,” said Loeb.