Chesterfield doctor plays key role in Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine study


CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A local doctor is playing a key role in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Dr. Aaron Hartman is a family practice doctor in Midlothian, but he is also the principal investigator and medical director of Virginia Research Center. The group was chosen by Pfizer to participate in the pharmaceutical company’s vaccine study.

Dr. Hartman’s clinical practice, Family Practice Associates, is the only site in Virginia to give out the Pfizer trial vaccine. They have vaccinated about 250 participants in his Midlothian office.

The doctor told 8News he was excited to be involved in the study because to him, the vaccine seemed promising.

“As a physician, my biggest thing is safety. Regardless of what happens, whatever therapeutic intervention you do with patients, it has to be safe, and so I was really super excited about this opportunity,” Dr. Hartman said.

The main part of the study wrapped up a few weeks ago. Pfizer now waits on the approval of the Food and Drug Administration to release the vaccine on Emergency Use Authorization.

“I’m seeing a lot of misinformation, people concerned that we’re hiding data, Pfizer is not sharing information with people. The reality is, the FDA has not even looked at the data yet,” Hartman added.

However, Dr. Hartman is pleased with what he has seen in study participants so far. He expects the vaccine would last in the body for three days at most.

“Based on the science, you’d expect all the little particles and stuff to be gone in three days and I’m actually seeing that happen. So that encourages me that the safety profile of this might actually be as safe as we’re hoping it’ll be,” he told 8News, “People will feel kind of achy and cruddy. By day three, it just breaks.”

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is a new type of immunization called an mRNA vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control, instead of putting a weakened or inactivated germ into the body, mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response.

Dr. Hartman describes the Pfizer vaccine as “clean.”

“There’s only really four major ingredients in it, which are the lipid, the fat particle, the mRNA, then some saline and some alcohol. So it seems to be pretty clean,” he said.

Hartman believes this immunization could change the future of all vaccines. “This might be the next generational platform for vaccines, where we can actually make vaccines even cleaner than in the past,” Dr. Hartman said.

He also thinks the development of the COVID-19 vaccine will help researchers develop other vaccines faster in the future.

Dr. Hartman said the Pfizer study has now been expanded to 12 to 15-year-old participants. Virginia Research Center is currently recruiting for that age group.

“The expectation is that might enable people to go back to school,” Hartman told 8News.

Those interested in participating can call 804-893-CARE for more information.


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