The two county leaders are both hoping to be part of the solution to the pandemic.By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Before there can be a vaccine for the coronavirus there have to be volunteers to test the formulas. A handful of major tests are ongoing across the country including some in our region.

In mid-July when Pfizer was launching the trial of its vaccine Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi, who has lived a life of serving and volunteering, decided to sign up.

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“This has affected the world and like everybody, I wanted to do something and be part of the solution and not part of the problem,” Maggi said. “I did a little research and looked into the vaccine research and I thought that would be a good way for me to do something for my country.”

After applying online Maggi got a call from Pfizer and traveled to Columbus, Ohio to get started.

After four hours of questioning and tests, Maggi says, “A team of physicians came in all dressed up in PPE and they talked to me and they gave me a shot.”

He has no idea whether the injection was the vaccine or a placebo.

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Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald also doesn’t know if he got a vaccine or a placebo when he was injected earlier this week.

“This pandemic is so damaging to this country health-wise, economically, and you could go on and on and I just thought it was the right thing to do,” he said.

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Neither Maggi or Fitzgerald express any concern for their own health.

Fitzgerald says, “They went through all the risk factors and my wife is a pharmacist and my daughter a doctor and I asked them their opinion and they thought it was fine as well. So I didn’t really feel like this was some risky venture.”

Maggi had told the doctors he wanted assurance he was not being given the virus, and he didn’t want to be quarantined away from his family, including his seven grandchildren.

Neither man has felt any negative impact from their injections.

Both are keeping diaries of the experience and have to make repeated visits back to their testing sight.

Maggi expects to be finished before the end of the year, Fitzgerald says his commitment is to follow up visits for a couple of years.

As for being pioneers, both men shy away from the term but Fitzgerald says, “I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist maybe I just wanted to be part of that ecosystem and I’m glad to be a very small part of it.”

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Maggi’s perspective, “I’m just a small part just one of the thousands doing it but I can say I did what I thought was best and it was an exciting journey.”