I’ve joined a Covid vaccine trial – and it’s making me surprisingly competitive | Coronavirus

When I got a text from my GP telling me about a call-out for volunteers for a Covid vaccine trial, I must have been at a loose end. Before I knew it, I had filled in a questionnaire, taken a call and been accepted. I told various loved ones about this, all of whom told me I was mad. To be fair, when they asked me for details of the trial, I couldn’t tell them much as I had not bothered reading the stuff. I took a quick look and it turned out I had signed up for a phase 3, randomised, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a Sars-CoV-2 recombinant spike protein nanoparticle vaccine (Sars-CoV-2 rS) with Matrix-M1TM adjuvant. Having cleared that up, I was disappointed that the barrage of questions did not abate. What are you thinking? Why you? I did not really have an answer for them other than: why not me? Someone’s got to do it.

Quite intoxicated by my selfless bravery in this act of public service, I made my way to the Chelsea and Westminster hospital at the appointed time. I must say that, on my arrival, I felt a little deflated at the lack of ceremony. I was rather expecting a welcoming committee of a pharma company executive, a hospital director and a doctor or two. But all I got, before being led on to a ward, was a request for photo ID and more forms to fill in. Soon a doctor appeared and asked me: “So, why are you doing this?” This took me back a little, not least because I couldn’t give the honest answer which was: “Because I’m a great guy.” So I mumbled something about wanting to help out and we got on with it.

Blood was taken and I was prodded about a bit before being given a Covid test, some swabs to take home, and instructions as to what to do if I got symptoms. Then I got either the vaccine, or some saline, injected into my arm. I found the whole experience weirdly fulfilling. The company is a small US concern called Novavax. I feel as if I am on its team now, to the extent that I am getting competitive about it. When I read about the 95% success rates of other vaccines, I get a bit sniffy. I am sure, with me on board, we at Novavax can do better than that.

• Adrian Chiles is a Guardian columnist


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