A NORTH EAST mum has spoken out about her fear of passing on Covid to her vulnerable daughter-in-law after being left in limbo following a vaccine trial.

Pam Shurmer, who took part in a Novavax trial, along with husband Bill, has been left extremely worried that she is unprotected after being told she cannot have an alternative vaccine.

Mrs Shurmer said they also now faced being unable to travel on a "much-needed" £4,000 break away after the death of their son, Danny, as Novavax is not currently recognised abroad.

Read more: Teesside made Novavax Covid-19 vaccine faces long delays

It comes as The Northern Echo last week revealed that the Teesside-made jab is facing huge delays and had not yet been submitted for UK approval, while trial volunteers had been left unable to obtain a dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna as guidance is yet to be published on whether it is safe.

The Northern Echo: Pam Shurmer signed up to the trial last year Picture: CHRIS BOOTHPam Shurmer signed up to the trial last year Picture: CHRIS BOOTH

But last night, the Hartlepool woman warned of the potentially deadly consequences unless guidance is urgently published and those who took part are allowed to have an alternative vaccine.

She told The Echo: "I am really worried – I feel as though my vaccine is wearing off and I will be putting her (Sarah) at risk."

Read more: Those who took part in North East Novavax Covid trial hit out after delays

Mrs Shurmer, who recently contracted Covid and suffered for ten days, had taken part in the Novavax trial at the University Hospital of Hartlepool where she received her first dose in October, and her second in November, last year.

It is approaching a year since she received her last vaccine and was recently among those told they may also not be able to have a booster of the Novavax, as separate trials would be needed for that.

The Northern Echo: The University Hospital of Hartlepool Picture: NORTHERN ECHOThe University Hospital of Hartlepool Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

'Freedoms taken away'

She said: "Me and my husband went to join this trial thinking we were doing a good thing – we have now had our freedoms taken away and my family put at risk."

Mrs Shurmer's daughter-in-law, Sarah was left critically ill and in need of continuous care after being diagnosed with stage four primary ovarian cancer.

Sarah, who has since gone into remission following several months of treatment, said she had been left continuing to to need Mrs Shurmer's help, but that there had been a general feeling that she may spread the virus.  

Sarah said: "Mum takes me to all my medical appointments. I am worried for her naturally, she's my mum and I couldn’t have got through this without their support.

"But I know deep down there are worried in case she passes something onto me – I know they want to be here more often, but they are concerned and worried about giving it to me."

The Northern Echo: Mrs Shurmer's late son, Danny Shurmer Mrs Shurmer's late son, Danny Shurmer

'They have been left in this terrible position' 

Adding that it could have fatal consequences if she contracts Covid while in the recovery phase, Sarah said that the family had been left in a difficult position, with added stress following the sudden death of Danny.

She said: "To think of all the stress and worry that has been caused, she and dad thought they were helping and wanted to do something to help.

"They were very willing to be part of the trial and they have been left in this terrible position and nothing is being done."

Earlier this year, the family received heartbreaking news as Mr and Mrs Shurmer's son, Danny Shurmer passed away aged just 43 in June after suffering from a cardiac arrest.

At the time, the lifelong supporter of Hartlepool United and player at Hartlepool Cricket Club, was described as "much loved" and saw a huge outpouring of support from the community.

'They have pushed this back and back'

Mr and Mrs Shurmer had recently booked a holiday to Antigua believing their participation in the trial would be recognised, only to be faced with a choice of rebooking an alternative date or losing around £4,000.

Mrs Shurmer said: "They have pushed this back, pushed back and back, the last we heard was that they were getting it ready for approval by the third quarter of this year, in September, but they've said that won't now happen.

"We were due to go on holiday on September 7 to Antigua, we paid more than £300 in PCR tests and we have potentially lost £4,000 as from the first of October, Antigua will only allow approved vaccines."

She added: "Bearing in mind everything that has happened this year, we needed that holiday."

Others have launched a petition

Last week, hundreds of Novavax volunteers signed a joint letter to the Health Secretary Sajid Javid urging the Government to take action and allow them to have an alternative jab on the NHS.

A petition was also launched on change.org calling upon Mr Javid for his help, stating that they had been left "significantly disadvantaged" by the delays facing Novavax.

In response, a Government spokesperson said that it was "committed" to taking action, and said it was reviewing guidance on "additional" vaccines for those on the Novavax trial.

They said: “Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccinations have played an instrumental role in getting us to the point where we have safe, approved vaccines and they are providing critical data to help us respond to this pandemic.

“We are clear that volunteers informally approved Covid-19 vaccine trials in the UK should not be disadvantaged in relation to vaccine certification policies, and we are committed to taking action on this issue, including reviewing guidance on additional vaccination for this group,”

'We empathise with their challenges'

A spokesperson for Novavax said that it is "doing everything" it could to advocate for clinical trial participants and had sought urgent guidance from the NHS and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which they are "actively considering."

It said: "Clinical trial participants made a vital contribution during an unprecedented global pandemic and we empathize with their challenges.

"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."

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust did not comment.


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