Coronavirus: in Brazil, doctors guinea pigs for a vaccine

Coronavirus: au Brésil, des médecins cobayes d’un vaccin

“I want to participate, this is my contribution to science,” explains the paediatrician Monica Levi, one of the volunteers in Sao Paulo one of the most advanced vaccine against the coronavirus, which has already made more than 87 000 people dead in Brazil.

“My credo it is the vaccination. So, I have to be consistent with what I believe in,” adds dr. Levi, 54 years of age, who has been practising for 23 years in the Clinical specialty in infectious and parasitic diseases and immunology (Cedipi) of the megalopolis of south america.

This specialist is part of the 5 000 subjects participating to Brazil for the tests of phase III – the last before the certification of the vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, developed by the University of Oxford and the laboratoire british AstraZeneca, also tested in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The large south american country is also the first country to launch tests of phase III of the vaccine chinese Coronavac, laboratory Sinovac Biotech.

Volunteers are recruited mainly among the health professionals who, by their profession, are the most exposed to the virus in this country, the second most affected in the world by the pandemic Covid-19 after the United States.

“They have selected health care professionals, because we are constantly exposed. Requirements: be between 18 and 55 years of age, to work in contact with the public, does not present a co-morbid factors (that is to say, of risk), and not to be pregnant,” details Monica Levi, about the selection process.

“All the world is interested in the study (the vaccine) in places with a lot of cases, such as Brazil. The country lies on a plateau continuous (the number of infections and deaths), we can therefore compare the results of several tests,” she continued.

When Monica Levi told his family that it would serve as a guinea pig, her two daughters have accepted his decision and his friends have congratulated her. Some of my colleagues have felt that it was a risky choice but brave.

“Evil skull, cold sweats”

Half of the volunteers received the vaccine, while the other is given a placebo.

To limit the adverse effects, which all take paracetamol during the first 24 hours.

Monica Levi, who received an injection on July 21, describes having felt “a lot of skull and cold sweats” on the first day. “But I don’t know if I’ve had the vaccine or the placebo,” she said.

She will know that in a year, during which all volunteers will be required to attend medical consultations regularly. “We will do blood tests, which will be analyzed by (the University of) Oxford”, said Ms. Levi.

The largest laboratories are engaged in a race against the clock, scientific and trade to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has already infected more than 16 million people (2.5 million of them in Brazil) and over 650 000 deaths in the world.

“Normally, a vaccine has been approved when the test is completed. But with this pandemic, we are faced with an emergency situation and it is possible that the regulatory authorities give their green light, even partial,” says the specialist brazilian.

“It is not necessary to wait a year. A lot of people are going to die if one follows the usual protocols”, she insists.

The vaccine Oxford is already being produced on a large scale even without having been registered. When it will be allowed, we will have a large amount available and the production will not start from zero,” argues dr. Levi. doctors

But if the vaccine proves to be ineffective, “everything will go in the bin”.

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