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The Arms Race: A Postscript to Our Exclusive Vaccine Story

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

In our breaking news story a week ago, we introduced you to Dr. Tony Shields, a prominent Detroit oncologist and medical school professor at Wayne State University and his wife Dr. Fayth Yoshimura., an emerita microbiology professor at Wayne State University. Both were recently in Covid-19 vaccine trials; Tony was in the Johnson & Johnson trial and Fayth was in the Pfizer trial. In the trials, half of the participants got the real vaccine and half got a placebo. Tony told The Insider that after he had his vaccine shot on Election Day, “I had absolutely zero reaction to it,” The reason, he believed, was that he had received the placebo. “Most people who get these shots get some reaction if they get the vaccine. So, I’m pretty certain.”

Placebo or the Real Deal? Dr. Fayth Yoshimura and Dr. Tony Shields
Placebo or the Real Deal? Dr. Fayth Yoshimura and Dr. Tony Shields

Not so fast, doc. Tony, who treats some cancer patients who have Covid-19 at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, was offered the option of taking the Pfizer vaccine last Saturday as an essential healthcare worker. Before doing that, though, he wanted to know the truth about whether he had already taken a real Johnson & Johnson vaccine. After jumping through some bureaucratic and medical hoops, Tony got some stunning news: despite his complete lack of reaction to the shot he took on November 3rd, he in fact had gotten the real deal. Says Tony, “I was just shocked! I was just like, "Wow. I really did get the vaccine.” So he will continue as a participant in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial. If it turns out down the road that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not as effective as the ones made by Pfizer and Moderna, Tony says he will take one of those other vaccines as well. Is there a health risk to taking two vaccines? “Probably not,” he says. “I don't expect there to be.”

Happy Vaccinations, Insiders! Please keep us posted about your own vaccine experiences.

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