41-year-old mother participates in local clinical trial for DNA vaccine at Penn Medicine

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The rush around the world to find a COVID-19 vaccine continues as fears of a second spike of cases grow. Among the clinical trials is one occurring right here in Philadelphia.

Volunteers are stepping up to be among the first to try it out. The clinical trial for the DNA vaccine at Penn Medicine is 52 weeks.

Recently, a Pennsylvania mother of two signed up for it and so far things have been promising.

"This one was actually less painful than a normal flu vaccine," said Stella Sexton who is a 41-year-old mother of two. "It just goes into your skin, it doesn't go all the way in the muscle."

Sexton spoke with ABC affiliate in Richmond about her decision to sign up for what could just be a vaccine for COVID-19.

Sexton signed up for the trial at the Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania here in Philadelphia.

"I do not feel they have rushed anything with regards to my safety," said Sexton.

According to researchers, there's no chance of getting the virus from the vaccine as there's no live or dead virus in it, just DNA that matches it.

"They give you a little electric shock on top of where the vaccine was injected, and that opens the pores in your cells and allows the DNA to enter your skin," said Sexton.

The pharmaceutical company Inovio Pharmaceuticals behind the vaccine is based out of Montgomery County.

Sexton has had her second booster and is hopeful she will begin generating antibodies soon.

"I don't feel brave, but I do feel I am doing my duty," Sexton. "Because I have the gift of health."

Sexton did have to undergo screening before signing up for the trial. There are also other companies out there working on less-expensive approaches for a vaccine.
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