Pat Brewster had a personal reason for enrolling in a coronavirus vaccine trial. The 84-year-old lost her husband, 88-year-old Bob Brewster, to the virus in April as the pandemic was just beginning to take hold throughout Los Angeles County, having now accounted for more than 6,000 deaths.

Brewster’s husband was living in a group home in Palos Verdes when he and others came down with the disease. Her husband was taken to a local hospital, swept away into a highly monitored area, and just three days later she got a call saying he was about to die. She had one last visit with her husband of 62 years before saying goodbye.

“He’s very much in my mind,” Brewster said this week shortly after taking the first injection of a coronavirus vaccine produced by Sanofi and GSK. For Brewster, taking the vaccine was her way of fighting back against a virus that had taken away so much. It was also a way for her to be proactive in the face of so much frustration.

“I see these people going to beaches and I see things about parties,” Brewster said. “I feel like screaming, you can pass it on.”

Brewster along with 51 others this week began taking part in the Phase 1 and 2 trial for the Sanofi-GSK vaccine through the Palos Verdes Medical Group led by Dr. Lawrence Sher. The vaccine is one of only a handful of others being developed between American and European partners. And the Palos Verdes clinic is one of 11 sites nationally taking part in this particular trial.

If it’s successful, the Sanofi-GSK vaccine would be among an assortment of vaccines for the coronavirus that could become as common as a flu shot, Sher said.

The Sanofi-GSK vaccine is a few months behind others by Moderna and Pfizer now in Phase 2 and 3, for instance. But the Sanofi-GSK vaccine is slightly different, explained Sher, in that it most closely resembles a standard flu shot. There is no live virus. Rather it’s known as a recombinant vaccine that involves inserting genetic material to stimulate an immune response.

“You can’t get the coronavirus from this,” Sher said. “The biggest risk is maybe a reaction at the injection site.”

Palos Verdes Medical Group is an academic facility associated with more than 200 clinical research trials and numerous medical papers. From a medical office space in the Promenade on the Peninsula mall, Sher sees patients on one side, up to 100 per week, while conducting a small medical research lab on the other side called Peninsula Research Associates.

“I think people would be excited to know our neighborhood is part of this vaccine trial and the South Bay is contributing to medicine,” Sher said.

With access to drug and vaccine trials, Sher said he’s able to provide medicine to patients that’s available few other places. Another side to the group’s work involves biologic drugs for asthma and allergies, Sher said.

“When you get to deal with this you are ahead of everybody else,” Sher said, “and you are learning what’s happening 10 years down the road.”

The next phase of the Sanofi-GSK vaccine trial is expected to begin in late November or early December. To take part in the trial, call 310-265-1623, email info@PeninsulaResearch.com or visit PeninsulaResearch.com/COVID19

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