Couple hope to ‘lead by example’ after trialling Johnson & Johnson vaccine

A couple who are both local councillors have said they hope to “lead by example” by volunteering to test the new Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.

Rosemary Sexton, 43, and Steve Caudwell, 41, who are Green Party members on Solihull Borough Council, have both now had the single-shot jab, developed by the company’s pharmaceutical arm, Janssen.

Ms Sexton, an osteopath, said that being part of the trial “seemed like a little thing that I could do to be part of that bigger effort”.

“My motivation was obviously we’re all stuck in this situation at the moment and it’s all very frustrating, and there’s that feeling of wanting to do something to help,” she told the PA news agency.

“We have obviously been encouraging people to go out and get vaccinated as soon as they’re offered the chance to.

“So, on the one hand, it felt like an opportunity to maybe lead by example a bit, and say ‘Look, I have confidence in the scientific process and in the work that’s gone in to develop these.’

“Hopefully other people will see that and be fairly reassured that this is all being done thoroughly.

“The way I see it, I’m relatively young and healthy and relatively low risk, so actually I’m a good person to be trialling it out.”

Trials found the vaccine to be 66% effective at preventing Covid-19, while offering even higher protection against the most severe coronavirus symptoms.

The UK has ordered 30 million doses, with the option of millions more.

It was tested in a clinical trial involving 43,783 people, during which time 468 Covid-19 cases were observed.

Both Ms Sexton and her fiance, who is running to become mayor of the West Midlands, attended Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham this week to take part in the trial.

Ms Sexton said she was reassured by the trial being in its third phase, and added that they were told how to report any side-effects, though neither have experienced any so far.

“They did mention that there might be rarer side-effects, and they were obviously wanting to know,” she said. “I’ve got an app on my phone so I can report back any symptoms.”

Mr Caudwell said one of the reasons he signed up was to “normalise this idea of vaccination”.

“It was really straightforward,” he told PA.

“You just answer a few questions as part of the sign-up process, and I got a call the next day.”

He said the process involved “a lot of screening and making sure that I understood the consent process and what the implications were”.

He added: “They ask you to download an app where you record how you’re feeling, (and) they ask you to take your temperature a couple of times a day. It’s all very professional, as you can imagine.

“This is a way that I feel I can do something that helps out.”