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For San Antonians who participated in blind COVID-19 vaccine trial, Tuesday brought a long-awaited answer

Placebo or vaccine? Local veterans who volunteered for the Moderna trial last summer found out this week.

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio veterans participating in local coronavirus vaccine trials received some big news Tuesday from the Clinical Trials of Texas. The participants, who say we are in a war against the coronavirus, learned if they got the actual vaccine or placebo months after being injected. 

One of those veterans is 89-year-old Charlotte Phillips, who discovered she was injected with the coronavirus vaccine months ago. 

"I can't believe that I got it," she said. "If I didn't have this thing on, you can see I am smiling from ear to ear."

In August, the retired U.S. Army colonel started the Moderna vaccine trial. Since the study is a blind one, local veterans like Phillips did not know if the shots they received were the actual vaccine or a placebo. That is, they didn't know until Tuesday arrived. 

"Everyone that I talked to who came in this morning said they got the placebo," she said. "I was so happy. I was so pleased. And I feel like it is a real honor."

Philips likened her participation to serving our country again, this time in a battle against a deadly virus that has infected at least 2 million Texans over the last year. 

"I just feel like it is my duty," she said. "I am still a soldier in many ways. If people didn't participate in a study, we wouldn't have a study and therefore we couldn't get the vaccine."

Chief Medical Officer Douglas Denham said the Clinical Trials of Texas is excited that it has enlisted so many people for these trials. The Clinical Trials of Texas has been home to several COVID vaccine trials.

"And to get the data to help get the vaccine if approved," he said.

As the vaccine rollout continues, Denham says people need to be patient.

"That light at the end of the long tunnel is no longer an oncoming freight train," he said. "It is actually daylight. We are getting there."

For the participants who found out they got the placebo, they were given the vaccine on Tuesday. They received their first dose and will return several weeks later for their second shot.

Meanwhile, the Clinical Trials of Texas plans to start another trial by the end of the month. For more information, click here.