A councillor says fears of a ‘perpetual cycle’ of lockdowns has prompted him to take part in ‘landmark’ trials for a potential coronavirus vaccine.
Coun David Meller has signed up to a year-long study into the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine developed by US biotechnology firm Novavax.
The ‘Phase Three’ trials include 10,000 volunteers of various age-groups and backgrounds from across the UK.
It will give researchers insights into the effects of the vaccine on a much larger scale than the Phase One and Two studies.
Coun Meller is one of 500 people who are taking part in Stockport NHS Foundation Trust’s contribution to the leading study.
He had his first jab last weekend but will only find out whether he had the vaccine itself or a placebo next year. A second injection will be administered next month.
Although some members of his family were not enthusiastic about his taking part, Coun Meller says he felt it was the right thing to do.
He said: “From my perspective, coming from a council point of view, my real worry is we are not going to be able to get back to a sense of normality until we get a vaccine sorted,” he said.
“My fear is that, until we get a vaccine, we could be stuck in a perpetual cycle of restrictions and coming out of them again, that’s why I felt compelled to get involved in this.”
Having signed up to the NHS Vaccine Registry, Coun Meller went along to Manchester Rugby Club, in Cheadle Hulme, to receive his injection.
“The volunteers there were from a variety of age groups – including more elderly people – and I thought ‘if they are doing it, I can, to be honest,” said Coun Meller.
“It was quite an experience. It’s a year-long study all in all – that’s not to suggest we won’t have a vaccine earlier – I had my first dose and go back in a month’s time for the second.
“If I come down with symptoms I have to make sure I get tested and get the results back to the study.”
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust is working in cooperation with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) Greater Manchester.
Dr David Baxter is the principal Investigator for the trial at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust.
He said: “COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our lives and we have seen many, many deaths with serious long-term illnesses in survivors. An effective and safe vaccine promises a more long lasting solution and we are really pleased to be part of this national study of Novavax.
“The vaccine has successfully passed phases one and two and this phase three study will answer the questions about its safety and effectiveness for all of us. It is vital we carry out this vaccine trial and we’re honoured to be involved.”
More than 250,000 people have signed up to the NHS Vaccine Registry since July – including nearly 12,000 in Greater Manchester.
But with trials for more potential vaccines expected to start before the end of the year UK researchers are calling for more volunteers to get involved.
People from BAME backgrounds, those with underlying health conditions and the over-65s are being particularly encouraged to sign up.
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Professor Andrew Ustianowski, NIHR CRN Greater Manchester deputy clinical director, said: “This launch represents a landmark in the fight against COVID-19 and our Greater Manchester research community is proud to be contributing to this important vaccine study.
“We are really grateful to the thousands of people who have signed up to the vaccine registry so far. It is important we keep this up and that more people from across our range of Greater Manchester communities join the registry because we are going to need large numbers of volunteers to get involved in testing the vaccines.
“We need a really good mix of people of different ages and ethnicities, and people with and without existing health problems. This will help identify vaccines that work for everyone.”
More information on volunteering for clinical studies can be found here.