Dr. Atul Gawande, coroner virus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, told CNBC on Wednesday that he participated in the trial of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine.
“My mom, aged 84, said, ‘I want to give back’, so she signed up for the test. I said if my mom can do that, then I will sign up for a vaccine test,” said Gawande in “Squawk Box. “
Massachusetts-based Moderna ended up being the company that offered a test nearby, said Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard University. He said he received his first injection in August and “felt almost nothing”. However, he said, the story was different when he received the second dose in late September.
“Two days later, I had a fever, chills and had to stay home,” said Gawande, who is also president of Haven, Amazon’s joint venture, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. “I haven’t had to take a day off from my surgical practice or my public health job for over a year. I barely let anything get me down, but that one got me down. So, about 24 hours later, I was back standing and it’s okay. “
Gawande’s reflection on his experience comes when Americans outside clinical trials are being immunized against Covid-19 for the first time, starting last week with the Pfizer vaccine and that of Moderna this week. As of Monday morning, 614,117 doses were administered, according to a tracker from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gawande said he does not know whether he received the vaccine or was part of the trial’s placebo group. Although he suspects that the side effects he experienced were from the real vaccine, he said it was possible that it was a psychological response to receiving the placebo. He added that his mother “had almost no reaction” to the injections she received in her clinical trial.
The side effects of vaccines are not necessarily a cause for concern, Gawande emphasized. “This is the immune system kicking in and its antibodies being generated for the virus,” he said.
Gawande is part of a team of doctors and health experts who advised Biden on the coronavirus pandemic during the transition. On Monday, Biden was vaccinated live on television in hopes of encouraging other Americans to be willing to receive the injection. “There’s nothing to worry about. I’m looking forward to the second shot,” said Biden.
Biden said Tuesday that Americans need to remain vigilant about the coronavirus around the holidays, even though the vaccine has started to be distributed. “In the meantime, the pandemic continues. Experts think it could get worse before it gets better,” he said.
Gawande gave a similar perspective on Wednesday, saying that high levels of infection currently in the country will lead to more deaths from Covid-19 in the coming weeks and months.
“We have 300,000 deaths. Now, the next 100,000 deaths are already fattened, with new infections in the last week or so,” said Gawande. “It’s really about how we can avoid the 500,000 deaths, which is really horrible to think about.”