BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Baltimore researchers involved in the first Pfizer-BioNTech experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidate marked the one-year mark from the first shot delivered to a study volunteer.

“It was really unchartered territory,” the study’s co-principal investigator Dr. Kirsten Lyke said. “We got thousands and thousands of people. I think just people wanted to do something and this was their way of participating.”

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The study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health started with four vaccine candidates. Dr. Lyke and others were not sure which one would prove effective, if any.

“We couldn’t have imagined 94% efficacy. That was not even something we could have estimated. We were hoping for 50% because that’s what the FDA had hoped for,” Dr. Lyke said. “If anybody is on the fence about what to do, there’s just so much data showing how safe this is.”

To date, more than 130 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses have been administered in the United States, according to the CDC, the most of the three approved vaccines.

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Sixteen-year-old Konnor Crowder received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine Monday at the Baltimore Convention Center.

“That’s a fast time to make a vaccine and then more people are getting vaccinated.” Crowder said. “It’s helping free the world basically, because we’re able to go out and ease into being back to normal.”

Currently, the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health is studying another potential COVID-19 vaccine from Novavax as well as boosters.

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“I’m in the units taking care of people with COVID. Don’t underestimate this. We’re trying to achieve herd immunity and now is the time,” Dr. Lyke said. “We have an abundance of safety data that shows it’s safe.”

Paul Gessler