Head of UK Vaccines Task Force volunteers to be a guinea pig on a US-made vaccine trial

Henry Bodkin
·2-min read
Ms Bingham, one of up to 15,000 UK participants, does not know if she has been given the vaccine or a placebo - Kirsty O'Connor/PA
Ms Bingham, one of up to 15,000 UK participants, does not know if she has been given the vaccine or a placebo - Kirsty O'Connor/PA
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The head of the UK Vaccines Task Force has revealed she has volunteered for a trial of a US-made Covid-19 jab, and has praised the “Rolls Royce” treatment provided by staff.

Kate Bingham, in charge of coordinating efforts to roll out a safe and effective vaccine across Britain as quickly as possible, went public with her experience on Sunday, and encouraged others to sign up for the Novavax trial.

The American candidate drug is only the second to enter phase III trials, meaning it is being trialed on a large number of people across a range of ages, to gauge its real-world effectiveness in protecting against the virus.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca candidate is considered to be furthest ahead in the race, with phase III results expected by the end of the year.

Kate Bingham, Chair of the Government's Vaccine Taskforce, starting her Novavax trial at the Royal Free Hospital - Kirsty O'Connor/PA
Kate Bingham, Chair of the Government's Vaccine Taskforce, starting her Novavax trial at the Royal Free Hospital - Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Because it is a ‘blind’ study, Ms Bingham, one of up to 15,000 UK participants, does not know if she has been given the vaccine or a placebo.

“I was extremely impressed with the ‘Rolls-Royce’ treatment I was promised all trial volunteers receive, when I went along to the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust for my first injection,” she wrote in an email to members of the Covid-19 Vaccine Registry.

She added: “I won’t know until the end of the study which one I received. I felt very well looked after at every stage, which was clearly explained to me and all my questions were answered.

“I was sent away with an electronic symptom diary installed on my phone, which I’ll use to track how I feel on a daily basis. I also have a number to call a physician any time day or night should I have any complications or concerns during the study.”

The UK government has secured 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, which will be manufactured using FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ facilities in Stockton-on-Tees.

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