'I took part in the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trials at Blackpool Victoria Hospital - here's why'

An Anchorsholme dad who took part in the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trials at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has spoken of his experiences, and why he participated to "save lives."

By Rebecca Beardmore
Thursday, 12th November 2020, 7:00 am

Since March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has sent the world into a frenzy.

The emergence of the virus in England resulted in the first National Lockdown, with infected patients gradually filling hospital beds, schools and businesses closing, thousands of people losing loved ones, or suffering with long term ill-effects.

Now, during the second National Lockdown - imposed by the Government after a concerning spike in positive cases in the country - many of us remain working from home, if in fact we are lucky enough to still be working at all.

Paul Worsley from Anchorsholme spoke of his experiences as a participant in the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trials, at the NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre in Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

This is what happened to Paul Worsley, a 47-year-old dad from Anchorsholme who has been working from his Lyddesdale Avenue home since the pandemic began.

Paul works in the ergonomics field for a Swedish company, and with international travel ruled out, he had no choice but to work from home and comply with Government guidance.

But not one to sit idly by, Mr Worsley knew if ever an opportunity came up for him to be part of the solution in finding a way out of the pandemic, he would be ready to help.

And on September 28, the Covid-19 vaccine trial, run by US biotech firm Novavax, began in Blackpool at Layton Medical Centre.

It was also rolled out at Blackpool Victoria Hospital a few days later, at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Patient Recruitment Centre.

The trials, currently still underway in the resort, are in phase three - the final testing hurdle before being classed as safe and effective to roll out nationwide.

A member of Paul's extended family, as well as a relative of a friend, died of Covid-19 earlier in the year, and their deaths prompted him further to take part in a bid to protect those susceptible to catching the virus.

Paul explained how he believed the introduction of vaccine trials in Blackpool gave him the opportunity to play a role in successfully getting our lives "back to normal."

"I saw a post by the hospital on Facebook before the vaccine trials started, and I told my daughter Hollie I was going to sign up," he said.

"I contacted them and was invited to the department to participate pretty much straight away - I had my first dose on October 14.

"There was never any doubt in my mind about taking part. I knew that to get out of this, we have to be willing to help any way we can.

"It's not just about us as individuals any more, even if we are young and healthy we have to think about those who aren't, and think about who we could be giving the virus to."

After receiving one dose of the jab in the double-blind trial, Mr Worsley returned to the Vic for a second dose on November 4.

The nature of a double-blind trial means he will not learn whether he received the Covid-19 injection, or a saline placebo until its completion.

But regardless of which he received, Paul praised Blackpool Vic for its "brilliant" running of the trial and said he had felt no ill-effects from the jabs whatsoever.

After his second jab last week, Paul is due to visit the hospital again next week for physical checks, and will revisit another three times over the course of around 13 months for antibody tests.

Participants were asked to submit their temperatures every day into an app monitored by trial researchers, register any signs of illness after receiving a jab, and were advised to call the Research Centre at the Vic with any concerns - which had not been necessary for Paul.

Paul continued: "I've had no side effects whatsoever, not even so much as a sore arm, it hasn't been a big deal for me at all.

"There are so many people sitting indoors at the moment, terrified of being around anyone in case they catch it, and the sooner we can protect them the sooner we can get back to normal."

Although he has full confidence in the vaccine trial, and has shared his experiences with social media followers, Paul admitted he had received some less than enthusiastic responses from acquaintances.

"I'm not bothered what anyone else thinks, lots of people say it's too soon and hasn't been tested properly but I don't care, that's not true" he added.

"They had obviously been worked on for a long time for them to get to the stage they're at now.

"I'd encourage anyone to take part. Do something to be part of the solution - not the problem."

The Patient Recruitment Centre Paul visited for the vaccine trials is one of just five in England, set up to enable patients to take part in clinical studies and help to decrease the time it takes to roll out late-phase trials.

The Covid-19 vaccine study was the first to run through the PRC at the Vic since it launched in May.

Speaking as the trials began, Dr Angela Parker, research and development manager at the centre, said:"I feel elated that we've secured this for our residents, it's a fantastic opportunity for people."

"We have been working extremely hard in the Trust, and we have offered a lot of recovery trials to in-house patients.

"These vaccine trials aren't scary, and everything is fully explained so people can make their own informed decisions.

"But a vaccine is our route out of this, and we could potentially have one here that may help.

"The sooner we are out of this, the sooner we can go back to life as normal."