Covid-19 vaccine trial participants experiencing headache, fever, exhaustion

Luke Hutchison, a 44-year-old computational biologist in Utah, United State.

Hutchison signed up for Moderna’s phase three trial for Covid-19 vaccine trial. In addition, he added that he believed he is healthy, physically fit and a big believer in vaccines. He specifically wanted to support Moderna’s effort, as he was picked by his curiosity on the company’s latest RNA-based approach.

In the interview, he added that “I had a high degree of confidence it would work.”

Luke Hutchison woke up in the middle of the night with chills and fever after taking the Covid-19 booster shot.

Another coronavirus vaccine trial participant, testing Pfizer’s candidate, similarly woke up with chills, shaking so hard he cracked a tooth after taking the second dose.

In general, high fever, body aches, bad headaches and exhaustion are just some of the symptoms five participants in two of the leading coronavirus vaccine trials.

In interviews, all five participants — three in Moderna’s study and two in Pfizer’s late-stage trials. They think the discomfort is worth it to protect themselves against the coronavirus. Four of them being discreet in the interview. Besides, the discomfort often went away as time goes by, probably in a day,  sometimes sooner.

The phase three trials are a critical last step needed to get the vaccines cleared for distribution. At least 41 Covid-19 vaccines are in human trials worldwide. Nonetheless, only four U.S.-backed candidates are in phase three: Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Thus, health officials expect to have at least one safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year.

Double-blind Control Trials

The trials, which each have tens of thousands of participants, are double-blind. Which means half of them are receiving saline or another placebo. Patients are not aware of what treatment they are receiving. The health care worker administering the vaccine is also in the dark.

Although it is possible some of the symptoms experienced and described could be attributed to an unrelated illness.

However, Moderna and Pfizer previously said some participants in their phase one trials experienced mild Covid-19 symptoms.

But Pfizer said it was in a minority of its cases. The trials are also still ongoing.

So, it remains to be seen how many participants who received the vaccine will report side effects.


After getting the first shot on Aug. 18. Hutchison told he is experiencing a low-grade fever.

He got his second shot at a clinic on Sept. 15. Eight hours later, he experienced bed-bound with a fever, shakes, chills, a pounding headache and shortness of breath.

After 12 hours, Hutchison explained he regained his energy levels.

Having signed a lengthy consent form, Hutchison was already aware that he might experience symptoms. But he was still struck by the severity and duration, tweeting on Sept. 16 that he experienced “COVID-like symptoms.”

Two other participants in the Moderna trial, who asked to remain confidential because they feared backlash from the company, reported similar side effects. Likewise, one participant in the Pfizer trial said he experienced more severe symptoms than he expected.

Moderna and Pfizer have reported that their vaccines could induce side effects that are similar to symptoms associated with mild Covid-19. This includes muscle pain, chills and headache.

As companies progressed through clinical trials, several vaccine makers abandoned their highest doses following reports of more severe reactions.

Short-term pain

The potential side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine are short-term pain and discomfort in some recipients. Generally, a simple fact that some vaccines are more unpleasant to take than others.

To explain this, one North Carolina woman in the Moderna study who is in her 50s said she didn’t experience a fever but suffered a bad migraine. And it left her drained for a day and unable to focus.

Besides, she explained that she woke up the next day feeling better, but added that Moderna may need to tell people to take a day off after a second dose.

Side effects

Pfizer’s phase one study showed the expected side effects in a minority of recipients. Mainly short-lived fever. And this mostly happened with mild-to-moderate severity.

 ‘Educating the public’

Luke Hutchison has spoken about his concern. The worry of pharmaceutical manufacturers has not adequately informed the public about expected side effects.

He was afraid that it might cause a split discussion and backlash if he did not inform the side effects to the public earlier on.

The White House has dubbed its project to bring a vaccine to market in record time as “Operation Warp Speed,” which has raised concern that drug manufactures may take shortcuts to produce one quickly.

President Donald Trump’s push to have a vaccine ready before the Nov. 3 election. However, this does not help to allay those fears among the public.

The pharmaceutical companies tried to against doubts by releasing a joint statement in September that pledged to “stand with science,” rather than politics. To explain that clinical trials won’t sacrifice safety or the effectiveness of a vaccine.

Young people – The challenge  

In the era of globalization, young people are being the new challenge in vaccine trials. Young people do not tend to fall sick as people over 40. And young people often think they do not vulnerable to the virus.

Moreover, if they hear about the side effects of the vaccine, they might deem the vaccine is not a worth to try.

In other words, getting a coronavirus vaccine — like wearing a mask  — may be an act of service to help protect others. But public health officials can have difficulty getting some people to wear a mask, indicating that even more people may be reluctant to get the vaccine.


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Coronavirus vaccine trial participants report day-long exhaustion, fever and headaches — but say it’s worth it



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