Daines participates in vaccine trial

Montana U.S. Sen. Steve Daines said Wednesday that he participated in the COVID-19 vaccine trial for Pfizer, and that he believes he was given a successful dose. Daines later tested positive for antibodies, which does not mean he has the virus but would indicate possible immunity.

He participated in the trial run out of Bozeman Health, which included volunteers in Bozeman, where Daines lives.

The blind trial was part of Pfizer’s vaccine development. The drug manufacturer announced Wednesday its vaccine is 95% effective and it plans to seek emergency use authorization from the FDA in the next few days.

Daines said Wednesday that he heard about the trial from his mother, who lives in Bozeman. Daines and his wife, Cindy, both enrolled online.

The senator said it’s his goal in discussing his participation in the vaccine trial to build confidence and trust in Montanans about taking the vaccine when it’s approved.

“This is about saving lives. This is about supporting our health care heroes,” Daines said in a statement. “This is about protecting Montana jobs & workers and rebuilding our economy. This is about American exceptionalism and innovation. This is about restoring hope. This is about restoring normalcy into our way of life.”

Daines said he has been tested for COVID-19 several times because of his interactions with the president and vice president, and has tested negative each time. He also has not shown symptoms of the virus, except for some mild soreness associated with the vaccine dose.

The senator said he did not believe in mandating people take the virus, as is required for some vaccines for enrollment in public schools, but said he encouraged people to get vaccinated in consultation with their medical care provider.

“While I believe a vaccine is key to getting back to normal, I do not believe in mandating it. I would, however, encourage people to get the vaccine once approved, in consultation with their doctor. I trust Montanans to make the decision for themselves, use commonsense and practice personal responsibility. While we wait for a final vaccine approval, we must remain smart, protect the most vulnerable in our communities, and be responsible.”

The data from Pfizer has not been published or peer-reviewed, and will be examined by the FDA.

Over the summer, Pfizer reached a $1.95 billion agreement as part of Operation Warp Speed with the federal government, with the money to be paid after the company delivers vaccine doses.

Other drug companies got federal funding to create and make vaccine doses, but Pfizer did not.

Daines’ office said he was part of getting the $10 billion in funding from the CARES Act to help create and deploy a vaccine under Operation Warp Speed.

This story will be updated.