Raleigh woman volunteers to be injected with experimental COVID-19 vaccine

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A woman from Raleigh has volunteered to be part of the effort to try and stop the spread COVID-19.

Jean Clement is getting injected with an experimental vaccine as part of a clinical trial, and she said she is excited to be playing a role in the race to stop the pandemic.

"It's really fascinating to see the research try and keep up with what's going on and it's fun being part of it," said Clement. "I am a guinea pig."

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Jean went to Raleigh's Enloe High School and then to UNC Chapel Hill.

Now, she is in medical school at the University of Maryland, where researchers are playing a key role in the global effort to find a breakthrough.

"All the people here are working super hard to make this work because they want to see it work too," said Clement.

Two biotech companies, Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, created the vaccine that is in the first phases of its clinical trial at the University of Maryland.

It is one of at least eight vaccines being tested in humans right now around the world. According to the World Health Organization, 102 other candidate vaccines are in preclinical evaluations.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the Trump Administration's Coronavirus Task Force, told a senate committee this week that we should know by late fall or early winter if any of the vaccines are effective.

Clement and others are not getting injected with the live virus, but parts of the virus' genetic material. The vaccine works by instructing the body to produce antibodies to fight the virus.

In Raleigh, her parents had reservations about Clement volunteering for the vaccine trial.

"I don't think that they're too thrilled, but once I told them that I wasn't going to be challenged with the actual virus itself they got more on board," said Clement.

Before medical school, Clement worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a researcher. Infectious diseases are her specialty.

"I'm just really happy that I've been given the opportunity to try and do this and try and help those patients in the hospital that are suffering, in the future patients, preventing them from getting sick from hopefully developing a vaccine," said Clement.
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