Taking a shot for science

Ian Charnas taking a shot for science.

Taking a shot for science

Alumnus Ian Charnas joined a vaccine trial and broadcast the experience, hoping to change some closed minds.

By joining a vaccine study, he thought he could help to find a cure. And by sharing his experience in a video, maybe he could even convince skeptics to take the coming vaccine.

 

Those were the twin goals behind a brisk, illuminating video in which Ian Charnas ’05 asks the question, “What’s it like to get a COVID vaccine?”

 

Charnas, the program director of Sears think[box], in August joined a two-year clinical trial being conducted by Moderna, a major American pharmaceutical company. He’s one of 30,000 people in a phase three trial testing the effectiveness of a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus. 

 

He took twin shots with lofty goals. Charnas said he wanted to be part of the cure but that he also wanted to stand up for science. He was worried too many people were dismissing the dangers of the coronavirus for political reasons, adding that he was dismayed by polls showing some Americans intend to refuse to take any Covid vaccine.

 

“I thought, if I could make a video that shows the physical toll of this disease, I could make an impact on people’s emotions, and push people toward accepting a vaccine,” he said.

 

The result is a fast-paced, seven-minute film that offers snapshots of vaccine volunteers like himself as well as Covid-19 survivors sharing a dreadful experience. It was posted to YouTube September 28 and viewed by more than 1,000 people in the first 48 hours.

 

To craft his short film, Charnas displayed the strategies of a seasoned journalist. Using Facebook, he connected with others who have joined vaccine trials, as well as with men and women laid low by the disease. He then learned their stories in online interviews that typically spanned 60 to 90 minutes, he said.

 

Viewers of his video meet a half dozen Covid survivors, many of them striking for their relative youth and fitness. The former patients describe trouble breathing, splitting headaches, terrifying nightmares and lingering impact. One middle-aged man reveals, “I am five months out, I get winded doing everyday activities.”

 

Charnas says he feels no ill effects from the vaccine, if he indeed received it (half of the volunteers get the placebo). He does not know what the impact of  his video will be, but he has dedicated it to healthcare workers, in hopes they will not have to continue to work so hard.

 

Once you hear from the survivors, Charnas said, “The message becomes really clear—get the vaccine!” 

“I thought, if I could make a video that shows the physical toll of this disease, I could make an impact on people’s emotions, and push people toward accepting a vaccine."

Ian Charnas