Woman from Abergavenny 'trapped' after having unapproved covid vaccine now unable to have another

Liz King Wales Novavax Jab volunteer trial

A retired nurse from Abergavenny, who agreed to be part of a trial to test the safety of a coronavirus vaccine, says she now feels "trapped" after being unable to access approved vaccinations.

Liz King took part in the Novavax vaccine trial last year.

Her involvement in the trial means she is unable to receive one of the approved vaccines.

She is also ineligible for a booster and has no idea if she has waning immunity after having the Novavax jab.

Liz is one of 15,000 volunteers who agreed to be inoculated with a trial coronavirus vaccine and is now unable to travel abroad because the jabs have not been backed by medical regulators yet.

Novavax is an American biotechnology company which develops vaccines. Credit: PA Images

She said: "I felt incredibly guilty in the Spring of 2020 that I wasn’t able to help my ex colleagues during the first wave of Covid-19. So when I had the chance to volunteer for a vaccine trial I went for it.

“It was a blind trial and 50% of the participants had Novavax and 50% had saline [a placebo]. I thought I had had saline because I had no side effects at all, not even a sore arm. I had the first one in November and the second at the beginning of December.”

Liz was asked to sign an updated 36-page consent form. She said she "scanned through" and signed it but upon closer reading, she realised there was a small but significant change.

“It said we would be discouraged from having an approved vaccine because using it with Pfizer or AstraZeneca hadn’t yet been tested.

"I wasn't worried about it because we were being assured that the vaccine had done well in phase one and phase two trials and that approval was imminent - in a couple of months at least.

"I was offered both Pfizer in January and AstraZeneca in April but I was happy to stay on the trial because I had been told by this point I knew I had had the vaccine not the placebo and it appeared it would be approved.”

However now it appears that the Novavax will not be signed off until 2022 and Liz has tried to get another vaccine like Pfizer but has been declined from being able to do so.

She is able to get a Covid pass because the NHS app recognises that she has had a vaccine but still remains unable to receive an approved jab and is restricted from going abroad.

Liz is now unable to get either of the Pfizer of AstraZeneca vaccines Credit: PA Images

As a former nurse, Liz was able to administer jabs earlier this year at one of the vaccination centres.

“I've administered lots of other people's vaccines.

“At the end of clinics sometimes we would have three or four doses left and we would be scrambling around to try and use up the remaining doses. I never once asked for one because I was committed to the trial I was doing.

“I'm not speaking out for me, I'm doing it for all of us who were on that trial. I want to have an approved vaccine and I want to be in the same position as the rest of the population.

“I don't want thanks but if people like me hadn’t volunteered we wouldn't have vaccines. At the very least I shouldn't be inconvenienced after having volunteered.

“I feel abandoned and so let down by the system.

"It is grossly unfair that people who volunteered to trial an experimental vaccine are at a disadvantage and have had a Covid vaccine that was never approved and now I'm trapped unable to have another."

In a statement, a Health and Care Research Wales spokesperson said it appreciated the "hard work and involvement of all participants in vaccine trials" and is awaiting advice from the JCVI.

“Anyone participating in the Novavax trial should have had two active doses of vaccine and have protection against COVID-19. We are aware of the issue affecting some participants having additional vaccinations and are awaiting the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise further on this.”