A NORTH EAST man who took part in a Covid vaccine trial has said Novavax has "lost the confidence" of the people after the Government last night stepped in.

The man, who signed up to the trial at the University Hospital of Hartlepool almost a year ago, said volunteers had lost faith in the company after repeated delays in production.

It comes as the Government last night gave the go-ahead for around 15,000 Novavax volunteers in the UK to have an alternative vaccine after the firm last month admitted timeframes had "shifted." 

Read more: North East Novavax volunteers will be able to have TWO jabs after huge backlash

The Northern Echo last month revealed that the jab, which if approved would be made at Fujifilm in Billingham, near Stockton, was yet to be submitted for approval to UK regulators and may not be ready until mid-2022. 

Meanwhile, volunteers had been left in "limbo" after being told they could not have an alternative jab, meaning they could not travel abroad and feared declining levels of protection.

The Northern Echo: The UK has ordered doses to be made at the Fujifilm plant on Teesside Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe UK has ordered doses to be made at the Fujifilm plant on Teesside Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

But speaking to The Northern Echo, the volunteer said continued delays raised doubt over the effectiveness of Novavax, which was a view "widespread" among those in the trial, as the Government was forced to step in.  

He said: "I think if the Government are saying you can now have two doses of an approved vaccine, it's as though they are saying they have lost confidence.

"I have lost confidence in Novavax and I wouldn’t participate in any trials again - they have totally lost my confidence and I think that's a view very widespread."

Read more: Mum's outrage over delay to participants in Hartlepool Novavax Covid trial

The volunteer, who asked to remain anonymous, previously revealed how Hartlepool volunteers had been told by the Novavax clinical study team that approval was just weeks away, several months ago.

The Northern Echo:

But explaining that the Goverment's intervention had come "too little, too late" despite being warned about the delay weeks ago, he said family holidays had been thrown into turmoil.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Department of Health last night confirmed Novavax volunteers will be able to have two doses of Pfizer, spaced eight weeks between the doses from next week.

However, that will mean that volunteers will only start to become fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine after the first week of December, at the earliest. 

Read more: Stockton MP responds to impact of Novavax on North East participants

The volunteer said: "It’s a little too late, we are coming down to the end of the summer holidays, if you were going to travel where would you be able to go if you have a family.

"The decision could have been done a lot sooner, but I think they still should be getting their finger out to see what is happening with Novavax."

The Health Secretary Sajid Javid had been urged to act after a joint-letter was signed by hundreds of Novavax volunteers last month. 

Meanwhile, Labour MP for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham called on ministers to "urgently" set out the plan to ensure volunteers were given protection.

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

As the announcement came, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, urged people to continue contributing to the vaccine trials, despite the delays. 

He made the comments as he said the measures taken would now allow Novavax volunteers to travel abroad freely, restoring their freedoms.

He said: “Covid vaccine trials have been absolutely integral to our response to the virus, and as a result we now have our renowned vaccination programme, which continues to save lives. I urge as many people as possible to continue contributing to these trials.

“The measures we have taken will allow UK Covid vaccine trial participants to travel freely overseas once they have had the additional vaccinations.

“Those volunteers now have the flexibility to make a decision for themselves so they can, for example, visit loved ones abroad.

“We should be very clear that the results from these trials benefit the whole world, and it has to be said that if more countries around the world had reciprocated by allowing UK volunteers to enjoy fully vaccinated status for overseas travel, these measures would not have been necessary.

“As a separate issue, those in trials who are eligible for boosters should receive the booster dose in order to ensure the highest possible protection over winter.”

Last month, 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 also said that it was still anticipating submissions in the UK to be completed within the next couple of months, but did not provide a timeframe as to when this would be done. 

At the time, a spokesperson said: “Novavax is in active conversations with various regulatory agencies, including MHRA, EMA, WHO, FDA and others, and is working on the completion of our rolling submissions.

“Novavax is in alignment with these regulatory authorities on the final requirements to complete these submissions. As a result, there is additional work under way and we now expect that these final filings, including to MHRA, will occur in close proximity to each other in the next couple of months.

“Clinical trial participants made a vital contribution during an unprecedented global pandemic."

The Northern Echo approached Novavax and the Department of Health for comment.


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