What it’s like to be on a COVID-19 vaccine trial
Like most people across Europe, I’ve not been up to very much recently other than trying to get a little fitter and binging ungodly quantities of Netflix (would personally recommend Kim”s Convenience and The Last Kingdom). I’ve also been spending far too much time scrolling twitter, however for once something good came of it. Last week, whilst hoping to see something new or nuanced, which are truly rare occurrences, I saw an academic who’d shared an advert looking for volunteers to take part in London trials for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a potential vaccine for the corona virus.
After a long questionnaire and weekend of attempting to find my NHS number, on Saturday 25th I received an email asking me attend a screening at Hammersmith Hospital whenever was convenient for me. So, come the Wednesday 29th I popped down to the Imperial Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine at Hammersmith Hospital for my pre vaccine medical.
When I arrived I was given a stack of forms about my medical history to fill in before I was shown through to a room with five chairs spaced two metres apart for a video briefing about the study and its potential dangers. It explained how certain stages of the traditional vaccine development process have been accelerated due to the pressing need for a COVID-19 vaccine, alongside the potential pitfalls of this, before reiterating that we had the right to withdraw from the study whenever we wanted to.
Following on from that I was whisked into a room to start my medical to ensure I was eligible for the trial. After being asked a multitude of questions about my medical history, I had my blood pressure taken for the first time, was an odd experience. I then had my organs and upper half of my body checked for lumps and bumps by the doctor before walking out with my belt still undone, which had the nurse in stitches. At this point I was nearly done, but for my blood test so had a few vials of blood taken out.
I was then told that I was done for the day, and that should my medical history and blood samples all be kosher, I would be able to start the trial next week. Being given either a dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or the control, MenACWY which helps protect against meningitis and sepsis. I will find out over the weekend if I have passed the screening to take part in the study. Thanks to all the staff at the hospital for running the tests, they were incredibly helpful and reassuring throughout.
To find out more about the study go to https://covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/