Evan Fein can't know for sure, but he is pretty certain he got Pfizer's experimental coronavirus vaccine about five months ago.
"I think I got a real vaccine, and not a placebo," Fein said, during a public comment period the Food and Drug Administration held on Thursday afternoon.
The comment period was part of an advisory committee hearing, where top disease experts are asking questions and addressing concerns about the Pfizer vaccine trials, and, ultimately weighing in on one big decision: whether the benefits of authorizing Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for use in the US right now outweigh the risks.
The committee is expected to vote on that question Thursday night, teeing up the FDA to make its final decision about whether the vaccine will start going into arms across America in the coming days.
If Pfizer's shot is granted an emergency use authorization by the FDA, it would be the first vaccine in use in the US for the pandemic.
"An EUA must be granted and must be granted tonight," Fein said. "I understand the concerns about whether or not people will trust the vaccines, but there will always be some holdouts. Most Americans will take the vaccine voluntarily, as long as we're honest, don't talk down to them, and treat them like autonomous adults."
Given the emergency posed by the pandemic, Fein said "the burden of proof is on those who don't want to authorize the vaccine," calling it "immoral and unethical" to not allow healthcare workers and first responders who want the shot to get it.
Fein compared the pandemic's devastation to another American tragedy: the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. He noted the daily death toll from the virus now exceeds the number of lives lost on 9/11.
"In the words of Todd Beamer, let's roll," Fein concluded, referring to the famous last words of a passenger on one of the hijacked flights.
A fever, chills, and some arm pain
Fein said he received his first of two shots on July 1, as part of a study he enrolled in at New York University.
After he was vaccinated, he said he felt some "mild" side effects, including a fever, chills, and pain where his shot was injected the second time.
But he stressed he was impressed with the study follow-up protocol, and how seriously doctors and researchers took his notes.
"I was called repeatedly by the doctors and researchers at NYU to see if I was OK, and I was," he said. "Nothing felt rushed, and I never felt like a guinea pig."
Since his vaccination, Fein said he's been enjoying resuming some activities, albeit cautiously.
"I've helped out my older parents, I've gone to work in person, and I've exercised in small groups, and I haven't gotten COVID-19," he said.
"These are life activities that I have to do anyway," he added. "Not all of us are able to lock down and stay at home indefinitely. I still do my best to follow health rules and safety precautions."
With the daily death toll from the virus in the US now exceeding 3,000 people, Fein argued there is no time to delay getting the vaccine out to more people who want it.
"Right now demand for the vaccine exceeds the supply," he said. "The skepticism of some does not justify delays for others who desperately want to take it."
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