Sara Thompson shares her experience of taking part in Novavax trial

Sara Thompson, Study Support Service Manager for the National Institute for Health Research NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern, is one of 500 volunteers who took part in one of the largest and fastest recruiting vaccine research trials in the UK.

The Novavax vaccine has now been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Sara talks about her experiences of being on the trial and encourages others to think get involved.

“Although I work within research, I have never been involved in the detail of the day to day running of a trial or in the patient facing aspects of one,” said Sara.

“I decided to take part in the Novavax trial because I felt it would be a great opportunity to see what research looks like in practice and put myself in the shoes of a research participant. A close family member had been in hospital with Covid-19 only a few months earlier and I knew how important clinical trials for new vaccines would be so that we could reduce the impact of this awful virus.

“I am also really aware of the importance of research being inclusive of different groups which represent the patient population and particularly underrepresented groups such as ethnic minorities. Being part of an ethnic minority group myself gave me more motivation to do my bit and represent this group in the Novavax study.

“Being my first experience as a research participant in a trial with an intervention, I was both nervous and excited at the opportunity.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my appointments with the research team. They were all so positive and excited about what they were doing. They were really friendly and clearly cared about what they were doing. I felt informed, at ease and like I could ask whatever questions I had. There was such a positive atmosphere, and it was so nice to be present with the research team who were in their natural working environment and chatting in a friendly and supportive way between activities.

“The research staff that I spoke with were all genuinely interested in what I had to say as well as my wellbeing. It was also clear to me how much they valued my participation and felt it was significant. That feeling from them has made me even more willing to take part in future research. Through periods of government restrictions, attending patient visits gave me purpose and a very good reason for making an important journey.

“When I saw the news item confirming that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had approved use of the Novavax vaccine, I was thrilled that the hard work of all the research teams and research participants had led to this fantastic outcome. I was incredibly proud to have played my part. I felt I had contributed to something hugely important.

“Having recently suffered with Covid-19 myself and seeing so many others testing positive over the last two years, it is so important that we do everything we can to help vaccines such as Novavax be tested in fully regulated clinical trials so that we can help improve patient care.”

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