Doctor who oversaw vaccine trials warns of spread of COVID-19 in unvaccinated population


WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Dr. Kevin Cannon, with Wilmington Health, said people have a binary choice based on the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant of COVID-19: get vaccinated or get infected with COVID-19.

Cannon oversaw several clinical trials for Accellacare that studied the safety and efficacy of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

“I was personally involved with the Pfizer Covid vaccine trial, which started a little bit over a year ago,” he said. “When we embarked on a journey, never in our wildest dreams did we hope that the vaccines would be as successful as they were. Ninety plus percent success for both Pfizer and Moderna. The thing that really is striking, stepping back and looking retrospectively, is how our communities stepped up.”

Cannon said 43,000 people enrolled worldwide in the Pfizer vaccine trial. The site in Wilmington was in the top 10 for patients who enrolled in studies.

His clinic also studied booster shots, with 200 patients who participated in the original vaccine study. That data has been sent to the FDA for review.

Cannon said he is concerned about the spike in cases tied to the Delta variant.

“Both nationally and locally, we are dealing with this surge and I know people are tired of hearing about it,” he said. “In the last month in the hospital, our inpatient census has gone from 5 patients in the hospital to 105 patients yesterday (Wednesday), which is truly exponential growth. Again, 90% of those are unvaccinated. Practically 100 of the patients in the ICU are unvaccinated. These are really sick patients who don’t necessarily have to be there.”

Cannon said the community should know that the vaccines are safe and effective. He also believes the next few months will be tough for the community due to the Delta variant.

“Because this is so contagious we are optimistic that this will not be an extended period like we had last time,” he said. “The bad part is this is going to be a real slog for the hospital, for patients over the next month or two months as we deal with this surge.”

He strongly recommends that those who are unvaccinated get the vaccine.

“Either be vaccinated or be infected with Covid,” he said.

Cannon’s site also studied the Regeneron treatment for COVID-19. He said the monoclonal antibody treatment in patients with mild to moderate symptoms who were at high risk for hospitalization showed that the treatment resulted in a 70% reduction in hospitalizations and death.

In addition to his work to keep our community healthy, Cannon also found another way to give back.

For every participant who volunteered in the clinical trials, Cannon’s team donated to Nourish NC, a food bank that provides meals to children in our community. To date, the donation has totaled $30,000.

Tomorrow, Fri., Aug. 19, Cannon’s clinic will hold a pack the backpack event in which it will match donations to Nourish NC.

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