Coronavirus vaccine trial: I like knowing I am a tiny part of what could be our way out


The coronavirus has already killed tens of thousands of people in the UK.

Dr Ellie Cannon tells Sky News about the first stage of her volunteering to be part of a vaccine trial for the coronavirus.

For only the second time during this pandemic I got back on public transport – this time for an appointment at University College London Hospital.

After signing up for the Oxford Vaccine Trial, I was called back this week for my vaccination.

                              Coronavirus vaccine trial: I like knowing I am a tiny part of what could be our way out

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Last week, during my initial appointment I had blood taken for the COVID-19 antibodies, known as IgG. My test came back negative meaning it is unlikely I have had COVID so far.

I expected this result, as I have not felt ill in the last few months and thankfully my family have also been well.

Not having antibodies means I am allowed to join the trial as they can now test my blood repeatedly over the next year, to see if I develop antibodies from the vaccination.

I was called back to UCLH for further testing.

Again, we ran through the potential side effects and how I may feel in the next 48 hours. I also had to have further blood tests.

The process was thoroughly explained to me, as was the testing which I would have to do myself.

For the next eight weeks I have to take swabs on myself and post them.

                              Coronavirus vaccine trial: I like knowing I am a tiny part of what could be our way out

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These are the same as the self-swabs you would take if you thought you had COVID – from your nose and throat – and can be done at home on yourself.

I have to take a swab once a week for the trial scientists to know if I develop the infection, even if I don’t develop symptoms.

This is vital for them to see if the vaccination prevents infection.

The doctor at hospital wanted to make sure I was still happy to proceed, and I had to give consent again to be part of the vaccination trial. And then we were good to go.

This is what is known as a blind trial. I have not been told what vaccination I would get as they don’t want that to influence my behaviour or symptoms I may develop, or think I develop.

Half the trial volunteers will get the new ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination. The other half will get the placebo – in this case a much-used meningitis vaccination.

I will only be told at the end of the trial which I was given. Every participant is treated exactly the same to ensure there is no bias between the groups.

Once I was happy to go ahead, two nurses came in to check and then give me the injection.

                              Coronavirus vaccine trial: I like knowing I am a tiny part of what could be our way out

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It felt like any other vaccination I have had in my upper arm. It was stinging for a minute or two but resolved very quickly.

I was monitored in the clinic room for 15 minutes to make sure my arm did not swell and to ensure I didn’t develop any reaction.

There was no reaction and I was free to go – face mask on of course – back onto the London Underground.

I was advised to take paracetamol for the next day to prevent any flu-like symptoms I develop. If I do develop any symptoms I have to be in touch with the trial team and, of course, isolate like anyone else.

At the time of writing this, it is a few hours since the injection and I feel fine with no noticeable side effects.

Next month I’ll be back to the hospital for blood tests – I am hoping we will be in a better stage of the pandemic then, with lower infection rates and more optimistic news.

I definitely feel more positive personally, knowing I am a tiny part of what could be our way out.

For more information on the Oxford Vaccine Trial, click here.


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