THOSE who took part in a vaccine trial only to be left in limbo for several months have reacted after they were this week allowed to have an alternative dose.

Novavax volunteers at the University Hospital of Hartlepool were this week told they could come forward and have their Pfizer dose following lengthy delays.

It comes as The Northern Echo first revealed that the Teesside-made Novavax jab was facing huge delays and may not be approved for use until the middle of next year.

Read more: North East trial volunteer says confidence 'lost' in Teesside-made Novavax jab

The North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which was among one of a number of trusts hosting the trials, opened its doors officially on Friday to offer the alternatives.

The Northern Echo:

Novavax volunteer, Michelle Currie from Marton in Middlesbrough, was the first to receive her Pfizer jab.

The 50-year-old teacher had took part in the study, which has since been found to be 89 percent effective but continues to suffer delays, towards the end of last year.

She said: “I was very happy to take part in the study and I have trusted Novavax completely.

"The support I’ve had from the Novavax team and staff at the Trust has been brilliant. But I was alarmed that I wouldn’t be fully vaccinated.”

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Department of Health earlier this month confirmed Novavax volunteers could have two doses of Pfizer.

It followed significant backlash from volunteers who feared declining protection as they could not renew their dose, while they could not travel as Novavax was not approved. 

Ms Currie, who had concerns she would not be able to travel abroad to Austria over the festive period, should now receive her second jab - becoming fully vaccinated - by early December.

She said: “I was worried that I was going to have to do loads of PCR tests, have to isolate or not be able to go away at all.

“Finally have an approved vaccine today just feels like such a weight has been lifted.”

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

Ms Currie is the first of many Hartlepool Novavax participants who will receive either a booster or two doses of the Pfizer vaccine with an eight-week interval between them.

The Echo previously heard how one Hartlepool mother, Pam Shurmer had been left fearing she would pass on Covid to her vulnerable daughter after taking part in the trial.

Mrs Shurmer, who had also faced being unable to travel on a £4,000 break away as the jab was not recognised abroad, said approval had been "pushed back and back."

She was one of hundreds of people calling for volunteers to be allowed to have an alternative vaccine as they waited for Novavax to be approved. 

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 as the first Pfizer jabs were handed out on Friday, David Chadwick, principal investigator for the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance which runs the Hartlepool study, said the trust had been "committed" to supporting participants involved.

He said : “Everyone involved in the study is being given the option to either receive the booster shot or a full course of two Pfizer vaccines to enable them to travel abroad.

“While we understand the frustrations of all of our volunteers, we are pleased to be one of the first centres in the world to be offering this option.

“It will allow people to who haven’t been able to travel over the last year to do so after their second vaccine.

“Our fantastic team have been committed to supporting participants through every step of the process. We hope this welcome news is reassuring for everyone involved in the study.”

Novavax previously said it remains committed to filing for EUA in the UK and it is working as quickly as possible to complete our regulatory submission to regulators.


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