An advert popped up on my Facebook page from an organisation called Synexus. They conduct clinical trials in the UK on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. This particular trial was for a Covid vaccine.
More precisely is was – 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-M1™ Adjuvant in Adult Participants 18-84 Years of Age in the United Kingdom.
I applied. I mentioned it in a previous post (Taking the Bull by the Horns) – it’s one of the things I’m doing to help me feel that I’ve achieved something this year.
My first appointment was yesterday.
How did it go? Well, a lot of form-filling and initialling things and signing things. But that included the mileage claim form, so no complaints about that.
Then I was collected from Reception by a doctor and taken to a consulting room. We had a conversation about my previous medical history – all of it. He took my temperature – and I was given the thermometer to keep, as it was an under-the-tongue one, and no-one’s going to want to use it again. A brief physical exam – tracking a finger with my eyes, glands in the neck and under arms, and a feel of my stomach. Thank God for Sure. Put a girl in a stressful situation – and then examine her armpits!!
Then the doctor left and the nurse came in. She took bloods and I did my first ever Covid test.
The Covid test is a weird experience. Not painful – but weird. The swab has to be rubbed against your tonsils (or, in my case, the bit where the tonsils would have been, if having your tonsils out hadn’t been the fashion when I was 3).
I did it myself – I’m not sure I could have let someone do it for me. You gag. You convince yourself you won’t – afterall, you’re big and grown-up and British and you’re doing this for the good of your fellow person. But you gag anyway. Then you use the same swab to go up your nose – which makes your nose run and your eyes water. Again, not painful, just weird.
Height and weight recorded.
Then I needed to download an app so that I can keep an e-diary of any symptoms or side-effects I might have.
And then, finally, I got the vaccination itself.
It’s a double-blind test – meaning I don’t know if I’ve been given the actual vaccine or a placebo, and neither do the medical staff dealing with me. My arm ached a little as it went in and continued to ache for about 5 minutes after. But no other pain or irritation since.
For the next 30 minutes I just had to sit and make small talk with one of my fellow guinea pigs. The Repair Shop was on the telly on the wall, so that was nice. And we got bikkies.
After half an hour, another doctor came and checked the injection site and then I was free to go.
In three weeks’ time I go back again for another dose of the vaccine. Then there are follow-up appointments at three months, six months and one year.
Why am I doing it?
Well, the ex and I have been running a business in the pharmaceutical industry for nearly ten years, so it’s something close to my heart. If the vaccine that we so desperately need is going to be safe and effective (with the emphasis on the safe), then it needs to be tested. And while much can be done under lab conditions, there comes a point when it really has to go out into the big wide world and be tested on actual people.
And if those actual people don’t come forward then the vaccine is dead in the water. They need lots of people – only with a significant number of people can they start to see patterns developing. The trial I’m on is for anyone, male or female, of any ethnic background, aged between 18 and 84.
What’s in it for me? A 50/50 chance of being injected with a potential Covid vaccine, but no guarantee at this stage that that it will actually stop me getting Covid – although of course it might. My expenses are paid. I get the warm glow of knowing that I’m doing something that might actually help us get out of this mess. And bikkies.
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