Northwick Park Hospital seeking volunteers to trial Covid Vaccine

Dr Alastair McGregor, consultant for infectious diseases at Northwick Park. Picture: LNWUH

Dr Alastair McGregor, consultant for infectious diseases at Northwick Park. Picture: LNWUH - Credit: Archant

Volunteers are needed to test Covid-19 vaccines in a bid to stop deaths from the pandemic.

Northwick Park is the largest site across the UK hosting the trial, which has been designed and organised by the University of Oxford.

Volunteers will be put into two groups - one group will receive the coronavirus vaccine and the other a commonly used meningitis vaccine.

“The meningitis vaccine doesn’t protect you against Covid-19,” said Dr Alastair McGregor, consultant for infectious diseases at the hospital. “So at the end of the trial we’ll work out whether fewer of those who received the coronavirus vaccine were diagnosed with Covid19 compared to the meningitis group. If that is the case, it will show that the vaccine works.”

The consultant said he felt “overwhelmed” by the virus, which has had a bigger outbreak than any he has encountered before.

“We had an idea of how a new outbreak would behave...because we have become accustomed to flu outbreaks. We’ve never had a massive coronavirus outbreak like MERS or SARS in this country and perhaps we were slow to understand that it would behave very differently to flu.

“It was a learning experience all the way through.”

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He added: “We were overwhelmed by the human aspect of it, particularly in Northwick Park. We were faced with an enormous number of sick people, a lot of people were dying, death was on a scale we hadn’t really seen before.

“We were so busy, it was so intense that it was only at the end when things quietened down, that we were able to take stock and assess what we had learned and what we should have done differently.

“Now we haven’t had a case for five days,” he said on Monday (June 29).

“We know that populations with a high incidence of high blood pressure or diabetes are particularly susceptible to viruses such as flu. Coronavirus really did exploit some of these weaknesses in a brutal way, most especially old age,

“And then there were quirks like smoking actually protects you from coronavirus, which still must be worked through,”

Go to the website for information on volunteering for the trial.