Novavax vaccine trial: A volunteer calls for information and support

Meeting Annette Hurndall in the garden of her home on Teesside, and it is clear she wants answers. Like thousands of other people, she stepped forward, a year ago, to take part in the Novavax vaccine trial. She says she wanted to play her part the fight against Covid-19.

Twelve months on, and with the vaccine still not authorised for general use, Annette says she and her fellow volunteers are in limbo.

For many, concerns have centred on travel issues, with the vaccine largely unrecognised outside the UK. With winter approaching, Annette now has a more pressing question: whether she will be able to receive a booster, or top-up vaccine, which is being offered to millions of other people. So far, she has been told that Novavax has been unable to provide guidance. 

Annette, who is in touch with other participants around the country, says frustrations are widespread.

Annette received two doses of the Novavax vaccine as part of the North East branch of the trial, based at the University Hospital of Hartlepool. She was one of around 530 participants in the region and more than 15,000 nationwide.

At that point, it was widely expected that Novavax - US a biotech company - would soon apply for the vaccine to be authorised in the UK.

That still hasn't happened though the company told me it is in 'active conversations' with regulatory agencies around the world and expects to submit its final filings to the UK and other regulators 'in the next couple of months.'

Addressing the frustrations of vaccine participants, Novavax said: "Clinical trial participants made a vital contribution during an unprecedented global pandemic.

In addition to working day and night to complete the submission process, Novavax is doing all we can to advocate on their behalf to support proof of vaccination outside of the UK.

We are also working to communicate with trial participants as best we can while honoring the firewalls put in place to protect their privacy."

Here in the UK, the Novavax trial was supported by the Government-funded National Institute for Health Research which told us:

The team in charge of the North East wing of the trial believes there has been good communications with participants but says it understands the wider frustrations connected with the programme.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care has thanked COVID vaccine trial volunteers for their contributions. On the question of whether Novavax trial participants will be able to receive a booster jab it told us: 

Annette Hurndall describes herself as an advocate for the NHS and despite the uncertainties, says she doesn't regret taking part in the trial.

However, she says she feels saddened and disappointed by the lack of support from the health service and is now keen for answers.