I Volunteered For The Oxford COVID19 Vaccine Trial…

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COVID19, coronavirus, pandemic, lockdown.. We’re quite sick of hearing these words now. We’re done with knowing what is happening around us we have had enough. Now, our only concern is to know that when the COVID19 vaccine is coming out. It has been days that we’re heard that the vaccine developed by Oxford University is showing tantalizing results so far. Sitting back and home and waiting for the vaccine is difficult because we haven’t been able to meet our loved ones properly and haven’t hung out in a while. But, have we ever thought of the people who are actually in the trial and how life is for them?.
Well now if you are wondering what it actually is like being in the trial, here’s a real-life experience from the trial participants.

I’m sitting in a hospital reception, and my breath is fogging my glasses. Minutes ago, I had been running through humid streets, late for my appointment. As doctors and nurses stroll past on their way to work, I’m aware that I don’t look particularly well.

How Was He Screened During This Procedure?

Volunteering for an experimental trial needs a lot of courage. Signing up for something which doesn’t promise you life in any way, no one can easily do that. As narrated by the trial participant himself, he did volunteer for the trial but was unsure of what is coming ahead for him.

At St George’s hospital, he was there for the initial screening as a volunteer in the Oxford University test trial of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. It takes weeks to know what it is actually like to be a participant in one of the world’s most promising efforts. But, it is what we need the most at the moment. It is said that the Oxford effort is ahead of most of the vaccines.

A few weeks later from when he volunteered for the trials, he was called up in the neurology ward where he was explained about what to expect as a volunteer in their trial. They had prepared a screening to explain the possible causes, what they can and can’t do, how the science behind the vaccine works, and what can be the possible side effects.

After the video screening, the next step to inquire about was the medical history and whether the volunteer was suffering from any COVID19 symptoms or not. Following the step where the volunteer was asked for the blood sample for analysis and was given a consent form. It was a tough decision to finally sign up on that consent form which has multiple things to agree upon. He was asked to agree for various study procedures which were, he should agree to allow photos of the injection site; He will not donate blood; if he was a woman of child-bearing potential, use effective contraception, and much more.

After agreeing for the multiple study procedures, he was requested to go through a physical exam. The physical exam, what he describes as was ‘uncomfortable’. He mentions,

I have to rub my tonsils with a cotton bud swab for 10 seconds, without touching my teeth or tongue, then stick the same stick up my nose as far as it will go. I’d read that if the nasal swab is done properly, it’ll feel like “tickling your brain”. It’s not quite that bad, but it’s not comfortable.

The Day He Got His Vaccine For The First Time

Shortly after a week, the time finally arrives when he was asked to come back for another screening appointment at St George’s Hospital. Turned out, it was the vaccination day and it is uncertain whether he will be in the trial or not.

Now I’m worried I’m about to be kicked out of the trial

Furthermore, he mentions that is is quite sad for the volunteers as the uncertainty in the situation can affect them a lot. Either they are those who are less likely to catch the virus than somebody in this pandemic whereas, on the other hand, some of these 10,000 volunteers in this trial will encounter this killer experiment.

“After weeks of waiting, a sharp scratch on my arm and a few seconds of injection, there’s a vaccine entering my bloodstream. And it’s 50:50 about which one it is. I won’t know until the trial is over”

Words From The Vaccine Trial Participant

Being a trial volunteer, not knowing what will happen, if they’ll survive or not, if survived what will be the possible side effects, no one has an answer for these yet. This volunteer explains so much of what we can never know from the outside. We have to be thankful to him and all the other participants for sacrificing themselves to save us.

According to him,

Knowing there’s a 50:50 chance I received a dose of a promising vaccine provides a small comfort, but it certainly won’t change my behaviour or my choices. Nor should it – the researchers were clear about that. Until I know for sure that we have a vaccine that works – protecting my wife, daughter, friends, family and strangers I pass on the street – I will continue to follow social distancing guidance.

He adds that he is pleased to have this opportunity to be a part of something the whole world is looking up to.

We are glad to have people like him and the other 1000 participants as for now, all we can say is a big thank you to them for sacrificing their lives and families for our future!. Fingers crossed for the results of this trial.

(News Courtesy: bbc.com)

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Javeria Adil Chughtai

Javeria Adil Chughtai

A journalist and a medical researcher by profession, badminton player and photographer by passion. You can call me an artist but No, I can't draw you! 😀

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