Brazil’s first coronavirus vaccine study volunteer has been reunited with her mother after almost a year and a half.

“I drove more than 600 kilometres from Sao Paulo to Araguari in Minas Gerais,” Denis Abranches, who returned from the Mother’s Day visit on Monday, told dpa.

“It was a hug that I will never forget,” the 47-year-old said. “It was very moving for my mother too.”

Abranches leads the dentistry department in the Hospital Sao Paulo and as a dental surgeon cleans the mouths of coronavirus patients to reduce the risk of additional infection.

She became known as Brazil’s first participant in the AstraZeneca phase 3 vaccine study last year, according to news outlets G1 and Yahoo! Noticias.

Abranches was among thousands of volunteers at high risk of exposure who had not yet been infected and received either a vaccine or a placebo.

For months, Abranches travelled almost exclusively between the hospital and home, and the battle against coronavirus became her daily routine.

“I suffered a lot in this war, on this front. There were a lot of challenges, especially mentally,” she told dpa.

Six months after taking part in the study, she found out she had not been given the active vaccine ingredient.

But in January, Abranches and her mother, 74-year-old Maria Vilma Pinto, got their jabs as part of the nationwide vaccination campaign.

“I was very tense because I had PCR tests all week,” she said of the days leading up to meeting her mother. Since Christmas 2019, they had only spoken via video calls, they say.

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