Gym director: Joining vaccine trial a way to help fight Covid-19

Sia at SGH’s Clinical Research Centre.

KUCHING: The urgent need to flatten the Covid-19 curve was what had called Kenny Sia to volunteer for Phase III of the ongoing Covid-19 vaccine trial.

The executive director of Level Up Fitness felt that since the beginning of the pandemic, all he had been doing was staying at home and limiting his movements.

As such, he saw volunteering for the programme as an opportunity for him to lend a helping hand in the fight against Covid-19.

“I’m not a frontliner, but I want to feel like I’m doing something instead of nothing.

“I thought that the very least that I could do would be to volunteer my healthy body for research,” he told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

Sia admitted that at first, he was ‘just as scared as the next guy’, but after seeing the trial pass Phase I and II without severe side effect, he was confident that the authorities would not have rolled out Phase III without a high degree of certainty over all safety considerations.

Moreover, he said living in a city that had access to Clinical Research Malaysia, ‘it felt right’ for him to volunteer for the trial.

“There are those living in cities like Kota Kinabalu and Miri who want to volunteer, but are unable to do so.

“At the end of the day, it’s one of those jobs that need enough people to volunteer. If not, that would be akin to waiting for miracles to happen, and we would have gone nowhere with this research, and we would be stuck in this pandemic forever,” he said.

In a Facebook post uploaded on Saturday, Sia announced that he had signed up as a volunteer for the Covid-19 vaccine trial after having undertaken his research.

“I read the consent form. I understood what’s at stake. Still, I believe it is the right thing to do.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-generation disaster. Many lives were lost, livelihoods affected, and many businesses suffered.

“Nothing compares to the immense stress that the frontliners are going through right now,” he wrote.

Sia also said despite the vaccination plan being rolled out now, it would not be likely for a generally healthy individual under the age of 60 like himself to obtain vaccination – at least not until next year.

“By volunteering as a trial subject for this vaccine, at best I get protected against Covid-19 immediately. At worst, I get the placebo, but that’s okay because I would still be among the first to get vaccinated once the study is over,” he added.

Recently, Health Department Sarawak director Dr Chin Zing Hing revealed that 23 individuals had signed on for the Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial being conducted at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here.

SGH is one of the nine centres nationwide that are running the vaccine trial.

Dr Chin also said once the volunteers had given their consent, 50 per cent of them would receive the vaccine, and the other 50 per cent would get the placebo.

The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme would be rolled out at the end of this month and should reach over 80 per cent of the Malaysian population – or 26.5 million people – by February next year, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently.

In a televised address, he said the programme would involve three phases – starting with some 500,000 frontliners consisting of healthcare as well as non-healthcare workers.

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