16:22 GMT26 January 2021
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    A California nurse who participated in Pfizer’s vaccine study said she had such strong side effects that she feared she had contracted COVID-19.

    Kristen Choi, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at UCLA, said she took part in a double-blind vaccine study in August. In an opinion piece in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal published on Monday, Choi described her experience, saying that at the beginning she was not sure if she had received a placebo or the actual drug – but started to have a “strong suspicion” after the second shot a month later.

    “My arm quickly became painful at the injection site, much more than the first time,” Choi wrote. “By the end of the day, I felt light-headed, chilled, nauseous, and had a splitting headache.”

    She said she felt both “feverish and chilled” with a temperature of 99.4°F (37.4°C), which later went up to nearly 105°F.

    “When I woke up again at 5:30 am, I felt hot. Burning. I took my temperature and looked at the reading: 104.9 °F (40.5 °C). This was the highest fever I can ever remember having, and it scared me.”

    A nurse at the research office assured Choi that “a lot of people have reactions after the second injection”.

    Choi said she had a fever for the rest of the day, but almost all of the symptoms were gone in 24 hours. She, however, pointed out that it is important to warn people about possible side effects to prevent the ‘wrong message’ about the coronavirus vaccine from going viral.  

    “I texted a few friends about my experience, and their response was the same: ‘Wait, does this mean you have COVID-19? Are you contagious?” she wrote. “I assured them I did not and was not, but every physician and nurse in the US needs to be prepared to have a conversation about adverse effects with patients.”

    The US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) will hold an online meeting on Thursday to discuss the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine before rolling it out across the country. In summer, the Trump administration struck a deal with the vaccine’s producers for the delivery of enough doses to immunise about 50 million Americans – which is nearly 15% of the country’s population.

    According to the latest data from the Johns Hopkins University, 14,957,000 people in the US are currently suffering from COVID-19, while 283,480 have died.

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