GOP Senator Rob Portman: I joined J & J’s Covid vaccine research to encourage individuals to get vaccinated

Senator Rob Portman told CNBC Tuesday that he was participating in Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial in hopes of underscoring the importance of vaccines in ending the pandemic.

“The most important thing we can do now is get these vaccines on the market, and we have to make sure that people are actually being vaccinated,” the Ohio Republican said on Squawk Box, while emphasizing that you need one Wear a mask and keep social distance as U.S. coronavirus cases surge to peak. He wore a mask during his Capitol Hill interview.

“It’s one thing to have the vaccines that I think will be ready by the end of this year, really in just a month and a half, but we have to be sure that people are ready to get vaccinated.” said Portman added. “The reason I took part in this study was because I think the vaccines are so important.”

Portman said he signed up for the study 12 days ago before the positive efficacy news from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech was released last week and Moderna’s announcement on Monday. Data from the late-stage Pfizer and Moderna studies showed vaccines were more than 90% effective at preventing Covid-19.

The Senator expressed concern about the public opinion poll, which found that a significant number of Americans are skeptical of coronavirus vaccines and may be reluctant to obtain them if the Food and Drug Administration clears the vaccine candidates for public distribution.

“These are FDA experts. These are scientists who are taking exceptional measures to make sure it’s safe,” Portman said. “So I encourage everyone to take part in the studies if you want, but be sure to get the vaccine when it’s available.”

Portman said he felt “great” so far after taking part in the study, although he noted that he is not sure whether he received the vaccine or a placebo. A key feature of double-blind clinical trials is that the participants do not know which group they are in so they do not change their behavior.

“I keep a journal. Now I report if I have symptoms every Monday and Thursday. It’s easy to go through and I encourage people to do it because the more people who participate in the studies, the easier it is for them to contact you.” FDA to get an emergency approval and the sooner we can get it on to the American people, “he added.

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