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Case study: Helping In the search for a vaccine - Paul's Covid-19 research story

Novavax vaccine trial participant Paul tells his research story

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) has been running the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trial from Cheadle hospital since October 2020, recruiting over 500 participants. While Trust staff supported by Clinical Research Network West Midlands colleagues have worked incredibly hard to ensure that the roll out of the vaccine trials was a success; this would not have been achieved on such a scale without participants who have given up their valuable time to contribute to research that will have huge implications for public health.

Paul, one of the participants in the Novavax research kindly agreed to describe what it is like to be involved in research at MPFT, and share his experiences.

What made you participate in a vaccine trial?

‘I thought well that’s something I can do to help . It will be nice to look back on it in years to come and say I did my bit to help….be a part of the solution to the problem really.’
Lots of people have concerns about being involved in vaccine trials, and – quite rightly – come to the trial with questions. Participants are given a 25 page information pack prior to their first visit, however it is important that participants have opportunity to discuss the research with informed staff.

What concerns did you have about taking part?

‘The day before, I almost cancelled if I’m perfectly get the information pack and you read it but there are some things in there that say ‘there’s a risk of this, there is a risk of that’. Do I want to put another strain on the family? But the risk/ reward balance in my head tipped it towards it being something I feel like I should do to help really, so yes, I discussed it with my wife and decided it was the right thing to do.’
How did the study team address your questions?
‘It’s always been made very clear that you can withdraw at any point so I just said ok let’s go, let’s sit down, let’s listen to what they have got to say and go from there. Having the chat with the lady in the first room as you come in, she answered any of my questions that put a lot of my concerns away.’

Would you have liked more information on what would be done with the information collected from the research?

‘The fact that I still had doubts - I don’t know if that was down to the information or just my personal circumstances but understanding what they were going to do with the information would have been better, would have been very useful.’

Have any questions that you’ve had through the trial changed?

‘After I had the first injection, that was the scariest because once you’ve had the injection you’re beyond the point of no return anyway, so you kind of live with it , you’re either getting a vaccine which is really helpful or you’re in the same position you were in before anyway so. I didn’t get any further concerns while going through the process.’

Taking part in research can be time consuming, and attending appointments may prove difficult to some people. The Trust’s research team works flexibly to ensure that we can provide opportunities to be involved in research that fit around participants.

Paul added that his employer was supportive of his involvement in the vaccine trial: ‘I’m very lucky with my current employer, he is very understanding - he’s been very flexible and that’s been really helpful.’

The vaccine trial includes three visits to Cheadle hospital, where there is a clear process that participants go through.

What would you say to anyone thinking of getting involved in research?

‘It’s been really professional, everyone has been really nice and friendly and put you at ease when you get here. I guess like I say, everybody here is doing their part and doing something for the greater good I guess, so it’s something to feel good about.

‘Ask questions if there is anything you are unsure about - talk about it, because there is always someone who has the answer, that’s what I found anyway. I say go for it, it is for the greater good!’

Research is vital in healthcare, and there is a range of ways you can be involved, from being a participant in research to being involved in the research design process.

Would you take part in more research in future?

‘Yes I think so, as long as there were no health implications or the risk wasn’t too high. I think with COVID I have been prepared to go further than I would have for something less threatening to life. If I was a person of particular interest because of the way I live my life or the things that I do and it would save other lives then absolutely, I think I would be morally obliged to in a way. Not everyone would feel obliged to do something but certainly I felt like I should for sure.’

The research and innovation team at MPFT is always looking for public and patient involvement in research. If you are interested in being involved, please contact

We extend our unreserved thanks to all our participants – and partners and families who have acted as taxis!