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Case study: Taking part in a Covid-19 vaccine study - Jess's Story

A participant in a Covid-19 vaccine study in Bradford talks about her experience of taking part.

A participant on a Covid-19 vaccine study in Bradford has described how taking part in research helped her to feel like she was doing something proactive during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Jess, a Transformation Manager at BT, is usually based in London but moved back home to Yorkshire to work during the national lockdown. She signed up to the COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry after seeing a post from a friend on Facebook which motivated her to be part of the fight against the virus:

“When I saw it and thought of signing up, I thought if my grandchildren ever asked me what I did to help I could say I’d done something proactive,” she said. “While I’ve been trying to keep our lives as normal as possible throughout the pandemic for our daughter, actually my contribution to the greater good and wider society has been quite limited. I wanted to do something to make a difference alongside the thousands of others who will be called upon.

“My husband is a key worker and so that’s his way of contributing to society, I’ve been sitting in the four walls of my office throughout the pandemic and so I really want to help and this is one way that I can.”

After signing up, Jess was contacted by email to say that she was eligible to take part in a study testing the effectiveness of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by US biotechnology company Novavax. She booked an appointment.

“I was sent lots of information with the initial email so I had the opportunity to read everything I was signing up to before I actually did it. It couldn’t have been easier really.”

The Novavax study is a randomised, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded trial during which half of volunteers will be given two injections of the vaccine candidate, 21 days apart, while the remaining receive a placebo.

Jess says the staff at her appointment helped to make the process a great experience for participants: “I think I’m well supported in the trial. It could have been quite clinical - everyone had masks on and was socially distanced but staff were really jovial, it was a really warm, human experience.

“At the appointment I talked them through my own condition as while I’m perfectly healthy, I know I have an aneurysm on my brain. It’s not a condition that would be exacerbated by Covid-19, but around 1% of the population are also known to have an aneurysm, so wouldn’t it be good to know that the vaccine can also work for others with that condition.”

Taking part in the trial has changed Jess’s perception of clinical research: “Before I just assumed it happened in a bit of a closed box space,” she said. “Which is really wrong of me, because it’s not just something that other people get involved in, it’s something that everyone can get involved in, and wouldn’t it be a great thing if more people were signing up to take part in the trials because that’s truly the only way we’re going to beat this thing”

To find out more and sign up to the NHS Covid-19 Research Registry, visit http://nhs.uk/researchcontact