Why I volunteered for a COVID vaccine trial

When investigative reporter Steve Stecklow told his friends he'd volunteered for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine trial, many weren't convinced.

But he had his reasons - and felt that if we were ever to tackle this virus, health services would need volunteers like him.

[Coronavirus vaccine volunteer and Reuters journalist, Steve Stecklow, saying:]

"What happened was back in July, the UK government announced that it was seeking volunteers to test potential vaccines for COVID-19, and so I heard about this and decided just to go online and look at the form and fill it out."

"Then in September, I get this email saying I'm one of a quarter-million or more than a quarter-million 'pioneers' in the effort to to combat coronavirus, and a few days later I got asked if I wanted to participate in a trial with a vaccine made by an American company called Novavax. So at that point, I really had to decide. I had mentioned to several friends that I was considering this and, you know, one of them - my college roommate - said 'it sounds risky.' I noticed that none of my friends were willing to do it themselves."

"I did research into this particular vaccine. It seemed pretty safe. They had done an earlier trial with around 100 people and the worst side effect was someone who got a fever for a day, all the symptoms were mild, none of the people didn't want to take the second injection. So, you know, part of it was they need volunteers or we're never going to defeat this pandemic. So, part of it was that. Part of it was selfish - like, I wouldn't mind getting inoculated sooner rather than later, so I thought there was a chance of that. Part of it was journalistic, I was just kind of curious."

"To be honest, I was more scared of going to the hospital to get the vaccine and taking a taxi there and back than actually getting the vaccine because, like a lot of people, I haven't been to a restaurant or a pub in eight months. I've been so cautious that my wife has referred to me as her jailer!"

"The company hasn't published its late stage trial results yet. They have published the early stage trial, which was promising and allowed them to do the trial that I'm in. They're now seeking 15,000 volunteers and the company just got permission to a trial that they intend to do like this one in the United States, as well."

Video Transcript

- When investigative reporter Steve Stecklow told his friends he had volunteered for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine trial, many weren't convinced. But he had his reasons and felt that if we were ever to tackle this virus, health services would need volunteers like him.

STEVE STECKLOW: What happened was, back in July, the UK government announced that it was seeking volunteers to test potential vaccines for COVID-19. And so I heard about this and decided just to go online and look at the form and fill it out.

Then in September, I get this email saying I'm one of a quarter million-- or more than a quarter million-- pioneers in the effort to combat coronavirus. And a few days later, I got asked if I wanted to participate in a trial with a vaccine made by an American company called Novavax. So at that point, I really had to decide.

I had mentioned to several friends that I was considering this. And one of them my-- college roommate-- said it sounds risky. I noticed that none of my friends were willing to do it themselves.

I did research into this particular vaccine. It seemed pretty safe. They had done an earlier trial with around 100 people, and the worst side effect was someone who got a fever for a day. All the symptoms were mild. None of the people didn't want to take the second injection.

So part of it was they need volunteers, or we're never going to defeat this pandemic. So part of it was that. Part of it was selfish. Like I wouldn't mind getting inoculated sooner rather than later. So I thought there was a chance of that. Part of it was journalistic. I was just kind of curious.

To be honest, I was more scared of going to the hospital to get the vaccine and taking a taxi there and back than actually getting the vaccine, because like a lot of people, I haven't been to a restaurant or a pub in eight months. I've been so cautious that my wife has referred to me as her jailer.

The company hasn't published its late stage trial results yet. They have published the early stage trial, which was promising and allowed them to do the trial that I'm in. By the way, in the UK, they originally were seeking 10,000 volunteers for this trial. They're now seeking 15,000 volunteers, and the company just got permission to do the trial that they intend to do like this one in the United States as well.