Oxford vaccine trial participants praise ‘game changer’ jab

Participants in the Oxford vaccine trial have said they are “proud” and “delighted” that the jab has been approved for use in the UK.

The Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which has been described as a “game changer”, was given the green light on Wednesday morning.

“I decided to take part because it was something I could do to help, at a time when we all felt a bit helpless,” Ruthi, who did not want her surname to be used, told the PA news agency.

“There is certainly a sense of pride. Rationally it is of course rather misplaced, as I had nothing to do with this success, it was the scientists and clinicians.

“It does feel good to be part of something that can be such a game changer.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that the vaccine rollout will begin on January 4, including to care homes.

Ruthi, aged 46, from Oxford, was part of the vaccine’s first batch of trials in April and May, and said that “it really felt that the team was very serious about our safety and about proceeding carefully”.

She told PA: “It is especially pleasing to know that my participation in the trial is not helping a pharmaceutical company to make a huge amount of profit, as AZ are keeping the price of the vaccine low.

“The whole team was really wonderful throughout, not least all the lovely nurses and medical students, who were the ones we interacted with the most when they took blood samples and are themselves volunteers.

“I think I am feeling like everyone else – excited that the situation might finally start to turn round.”

Janet, who did not want her surname to be used, told PA: “I am a retired nurse and wanted to help in the only way I could.

“I am delighted and have texted all my friends and family. I always thought we would sort this somehow.”

The 75-year-old from Yorkshire took part in the trial in October, and said she would like to get back to “meeting my friends, singing in the Hull NHS choir, and travelling” once she is “unblinded” from the trial.

Participants who are offered a vaccine are unblinded from the trial, meaning they will find out whether they were given the vaccine or a placebo, and will receive a jab if they were part of the placebo group.

Jack Sommers, a 35-year-old freelance journalist from London, told PA: “I am a little bit proud of myself for being a little bit brave.

“Everyone who took part should be a little bit proud of themselves for being a little bit brave, because when you add all those little bits of bravery together you get this – you get an approved vaccine.”

(PA Graphics)

Mr Hancock said the plan is to vaccinate all vulnerable groups first but that eventually all adults, including the under-50s, will be offered a jab.

The Oxford vaccine can be stored in a standard fridge, unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which needs cold storage of around minus 70C.

This means the Oxford vaccine is easier to roll out to places such as care homes and GP surgeries.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said the jab is “safe and effective”, adding: “It is very good news that the independent regulator has now authorised for use the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.”

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