Novavax Part 3 – Crossover Study?

Wednesday, February 10th 2021 at 9:12 pm
by Jonah

I had another visit to the Lynn Institute today. This time was just to give them some blood, two and a half vials, which is apparently all my vein wanted give up, according to my phlebotomist Angelica.

My study administrator told me she had some very interesting news. She said she would know more on Friday but she had heard it on good authority that our vaccine trial was going to be phased into a crossover study, meaning that we would be receiving two injections of whatever we hadn’t received the first time around. So if I got the real vaccine, I’d be injected with two shots of the placebo. But more importantly, if I’d received the placebo, I’d get the real thing. She said she thought this would happen around the end of April. Since the timeline of me getting a vaccine through normal procedures means I might not get one until summer or even fall, that’s pretty darn good news!

Also, Novavax’s previous trial showed nearly 90% efficacy, which is really, really good!

And now I have a correction to post about a previous blog entry. Another member of this household has also entered into the Novavax trial, and I was informed that it turns out the syringe I was injected with was covered in sparkly blue tape. The stuff inside is clear. So no protomolecule for me after all.

Novavax 2nd Injection

Wednesday, January 27th 2021 at 8:57 pm
by Jonah

Today I had an appointment for my second injection for the Novavax vaccine trial. I go to the clinic a couple minutes early, but I had to wait quite a while because, as they told all of us waiting in the waiting room sitting as far apart as possible, one of the participants undergoing the injection had passed out. But it wasn’t because of the injection. She passed out when they were trying to draw blood. According to one of the employees, “She said she looked away but then she heard the needle pop through her skin, and that’s when she fainted.”

This time I got an injection in the other arm, but it was the same injection as last time: a 2/3rds chance I got the vaccine, a 1/3 chance I got saline. I gave urine and blood again and had the world’s shortest physical by the same doctor as last time, who said, “She looks excellent,” to which I replied, “Why, thank you!” This time I couldn’t see inside the syringe to see if it was the same weird blue color. This time Bobbie seemed to really jab it into my arm, which hurt pretty good. Just like last time, my arm started burning right about five minutes after the injection.

Tonight my arm is sore, though not a whole lot. It’s throbbing a little.

I go back in two weeks to give more blood.

I asked when the trial would be unmasked, and they said they didn’t know. They said that if I get a chance to get a real vaccine, to call them first and they’d let the cat out of the bag.

This clinic has also been conducting Moderna trials. In the waiting room beforehand and in the clinic break room where we had to wait for half an hour before we could leave, just in case we had an adverse effects, there were other people there who had been in the Moderna trial last year. They had received their first injection in August and their second in September. Today they were informed that they had received placebos and so they were given the real Moderna vaccine today. I asked a lady who had just gotten hers if the real one felt any different than the placebo injections, but she said no. She had been convinced that she had received the real vaccine last year, but it turned out she didn’t after all.

This time I got a round band-aid.


Wednesday, January 6th 2021 at 8:29 pm
by Jonah

My phone’s web browser Chrome likes to show me news stories it thinks I’d be interested in reading (it’s convinced I’m obsessed with Star Wars, The Expanse, Phoebe Bridgers, and asteroids, so what’s what most of the articles are about). Day before yesterday it popped up an article from KRDO saying that phase three trials were being conducted in Colorado Springs for a new COVID-19 vaccine.

So I Googled the name of the company Novavax and Colorado Springs, and the website that popped up offered to let me take a survey to see if I were eligible to participate. For this particular trial they only want participants who meet certain criteria of having a greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Examples include:

Racial minority (nope)

Live in crowded conditions such as shared housing (nope)

Be an essential worker in close contact with the public or other workers (not really)

Are 65 or older (not yet)

Have underlying medical conditions

I checked the list of underlying medical conditions, since I’m pretty healthy. Turns out one of the conditions is being FAT!

At the end of the survey, it said that I appeared to qualify and to call a number with a (405) area code.

The next morning at 8 a.m. I called the number. The woman who answered asked me the same questions that I had answered in the online questionnaire and told me that I qualified for the trial. “Can you come in tomorrow?” “What time?” I answered. She said 11 a.m. and gave me the address. I asked what the sign on the door said, and she paused and answered, “I’m sorry, I don’t know. I’m in Oklahoma City.” I guess I didn’t have to wait until 8 a.m. to call.

This morning I showed up at a doctor’s office at 11 a.m. I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork, then I was ushered into an exam room. For the next two hours, a stream of different people came in to ask me detailed questions about my medical history, perform a physical exam, request urine, measure my height, take my weight, take my blood pressure, take my blood, and finally administer an injection.

A woman in blue scrubs came in. “Hi, I’m Bobbie!” she greeted me. She asked me which arm I wanted the injection. I chose my right arm, and she said my second injection in three weeks would be in my opposite arm. “You are participant number 25,” she said, reading from my chart. Then she uncapped a syringe holding what appeared to be filled with a substance that I can only describe to be a florescent shade of navy blue. It reminded me of the protomolecule from The Expanse (maybe I am obsessed after all). She swabbed my right upper arm just below my shoulder and gave me a quick jab. I hardly felt anything at all.

This vaccine trial uses a lab engineered spike protein to try to teach your body that spike proteins like the one in SARS-COV-2 are bad. 2/3rds of the participants are given the vaccine, and 1/3rd are given a placebo of saline. I got paid $150 for my visit today, and I get more money for each additional visit (one in three weeks for my second injection, one a week after that, and then once every six months for the next two years). Well, at least I got a gift card that I was told money would be added to.

At this point, I finally got to leave my personal exam room and was taken to the clinic’s break room where a clinic worker was sitting with a laptop on one side of a conference table and a stylishly dressed middle aged black woman was sitting on the other side. I took a seat as well, and the clinic worker instructed me to download an app onto my phone called Patient Cloud and register an account and read the instructions in the app. This was tricky, because right then the clinic worker started recounting a hilarious TikTok video to the other trial participant with scene by scene detail while I was trying to read some very dry instructions.

“My arm stings!” I exclaimed, interrupting the TikTok recantation. “How badly does it hurt?” asked the clinic worker, clinically, suddenly typing into her laptop. I glanced at the other trial participant to see if any sign of agreement appeared in her eyes, but she just continued to sit there pleasantly. “It only stings a little,” I answered. A bit later I added, “My muscle hurts!” “How badly does it hurt?” asked the clinic worker again. “Just a little,” I answered.

The clinic worker took the blood pressure of the other trial participant and then told her she had not had an adverse reaction to her injection in the last 30 minutes so she was free to go. Then the clinic worker made sure I had completed my first two surveys on the downloaded app. She gave me a thermometer and a ruler and told me to take my temperature and measure any rash that may appear at my injection site and record the results once a day in the app. She took my temperature and blood pressure again and then, satisfied with the results, told me that I could leave.

This particular vaccine is probably not as effective as the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines. On the other hand, it only has to be refrigerated, not kept at super cold temperatures. At this point I think I probably got the vaccine instead of the placebo, but I don’t know when they’ll tell me. Supposedly, according to Colorado vaccine plan, I get to be in phase 2 if I did get the placebo (though it is unclear if I’m an essential enough worker to be there anyway).

Tonight my right upper arm hurts, like when I get a flu shot, except worse. Not enough to bother me, just enough to notice.

I have never been so excited to have a sore arm.

(No, Bobbie didn’t have a New Zealander accent.)


Saturday, January 2nd 2021 at 9:37 am
by Jonah

Three weeks ago we finally installed a hood over our stove, something we’d been meaning to do since we moved in eight years ago.

We removed the cabinet that was over the range and had to find places for all the glassware inside. Then we had to install a new outlet, as the power line labeled MICROWAVE was too short. The MICROWAVE got removed as soon as we moved in. If you visit our house, you’ll have to reheat your coffee in a sauce pan on the stove.

Berck bought a giant attachment for his drill to cut a hole from the outside. He ended up about a quarter inch from hitting the 220 line for the stove (which might have meant instant death).

We positioned the vent so that you will be accosted by wondrous smells as you walk up to our front door (provided we’re cooking at the time). The other day the UPS man remarked, “What is that amazing sauce you’re making?” It was 10 pounds of onion being cooked in butter to make onion soup. It did smell amazing right outside.

I painted over the wallpaper that had been behind the removed cabinet, and Berck enhanced the spice shelf. The whole process was a lot easier than I had imagined, and I can’t believe it took us this long to actually get around to it. Now the cooking detector doesn’t go off whenever we’re cooking (provided we remember to turn on the hood, which is a habit we’re both having to remember to form).

When the aunts go marching

Monday, December 21st 2020 at 9:47 pm
by Jonah

I never really had an aunt. My mom and dad each have one brother; one of them never married, and the other did three times. In the late 80’s, when my dad worked for the Christian Booksellers Association,  he befriended a couple who had a book and gift store in Wisconsin. When he introduced his family to Sam and Judy, who didn’t have any kids of their own, they informally adopted me and my sister and brother as honorary niblings and started spoiling us like an uncle and aunt.  Sam and Judy sent us Christmas presents, let us watch PG movies, and took us out for ice cream or frozen custard at any opportunity. Sam taught us how to snow ski and fly a stunt kite. Judy took us for rides in her cool cars and even let me drive around the block in her Camaro, long before I even had a learner’s license.  We got to visit at least once a year in the summer during the annual industry convention and usually at another point in the year as well. 

It was at the convention in Denver, right after yet another trip to get ice cream, that I busted open my shin while trying to balance while walking on a concrete barrier, losing the ice cream off my cone.  A couple days later, Judy, worried that my wound was becoming infected, drew on her experience as an LPN to debride my shin with my foot in the tub while I tried to distract myself by watching the TV in their Embassy Suites bathroom.  

Years later, Dad and I flew to Wisconsin to buy Judy’s Camaro, when she was ready for a new car, and drove back to Alabama with it.  He eventually let me drive it, which I did until I got married and needed something more practical. That might have been the last time I got to see Sam and Judy.  It’s been way too long. 

Now I’m an aunt, and I try my best to spoil my niblings by sending them Christmas presents, suggesting ice cream at every opportunity, and taking them for rides in my cool cars (sometimes letting them shift gears). It’s been way too long since I’ve seen them.

Judy was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago today with COVID-19 pneumonia and passed away the next day.  

During one of our visits, Judy had told me, “I still have that note you wrote me. I keep it in my wallet.” As a young teenager, I had written her a note, probably on notebook paper with a mechanical pencil, about how special she was and handed it to her before she and Sam left to go back to Wisconsin. Honestly, when she mentioned it, I had completely forgotten I had written it or even what I’d written, just that it had just seemed like the thing I needed to do. 

I don’t have any photos with Judy because they’re all safely stored in photo albums at my parents’ house. But I  love this more recent picture of Judy, grinning while looking slightly uncomfortable, with possible ice cream involved.