Fayetteville researcher working on COVID-19 vaccine trials says J&J vaccine is ‘safe and effective’

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Fayetteville doctor who is working on a Phase 3 clinical trial for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine says it is safe and effective and will help clear the way for more diverse populations to get vaccinated.

We first told you last year how clinical trials in our area helped get the Moderna vaccine approved for emergency use.

Now, the same team at the Carolina Institute for Clinical Research also helped provide data for the newest vaccine.

“Our participants are part of the data that the FDA used to decide that this vaccine is safe and effective,” said Cape Fear Valley Health Dr. Judith Borger.

Dr. Judith Borger (CBS 17 photo)

Johnson & Johnson says the effectiveness rate against severe forms of COVID is at least 85 percent.

Dr. Judith Borger is the principal investigator for the clinical vaccine trials involving about 1,000 participants at the Carolina Institute for Research.

The company is picked for trials because of its proven success in past trials, and its diverse population, Dr. Borger says.

“We can make sure the vaccine works for a diverse genetic pool of people.”

Participants provide blood samples and self-evaluations of any side effects, which Dr. Borger says have been minimal.

She recommends getting whichever of the three vaccines that you have access to first.

“We feel really fortunate to be able to shift the curve toward protecting more people and having less people get sick and less people die,” Dr. Borger said. “For the first time, there are more vaccinated people than there are infected people.”

Two big benefits of the newest vaccine are that it only requires one dose, and it does not require extremely cold storage.

Dr. Borger says this means it will be easier to get the vaccine to more people who may have limited access to healthcare.

“I think if we have a variety of vaccines on the market it will really help serve the most diverse populations.”

The researchers will continue collecting data for another two years, which will be used to help determine how long the vaccines are effective.

“It’s such a labor of love, and a labor of long hours,” Dr. Borger said. “To really have it come to fruition and know that we are making a difference is the most incredible feeling that we could possibly have.”

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