Expectations of Pfizer Covid-19 jab before Christmas are 'premature,' says Blackpool GP

The principal investigator of Blackpool's Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trials was concerned about trial drop-out rates as growing expectations of a jab before Christmas emerged.

By Rebecca Beardmore
Thursday, 12th November 2020, 12:30 pm

Dr Rebecca Clark, GP and partner at Layton Medical Centre and principal investigator of the Novavax trials, said the trials held at her surgery and Blackpool Victoria Hospital were going well.

But she had concerns about the number of participants leaving the study before the final three weeks of screening, under false impressions that the Pfizer vaccine would be ready before Christmas.

Dr Clark wanted to encourage more people in the resort to sign up to the trials, in a bid to find a solution to the virus faster and protect more lives.

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Some Novavax trial participants in Blackpool are dropping out early under the impression a Pfizer jab will be rolled out before Christmas, A Blackpool GP has said.

She said: "We’re a bit worried that volunteers are dropping off for our final three weeks of screening because they think the Pfizer vaccine is going to be approved before Christmas, which is really premature.

"We need more volunteers to come forward to help us hit the 650 extended target which will allow us to get the results of this trial sooner.

"The government has secured more doses of the Novavax vaccine than the Pfizer one."

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Dr Rebecca Clark, principal investigator of the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trials in Blackpool.

However, there has been no official confirmation that the vaccines will be ready to roll out before Christmas.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: "I'm hopeful, but not yet certain that we could begin to see some vaccine by Christmas.

"Frankly, we're in the middle of the second wave, and I don't see the vaccine making any difference for the wave we are now in.

"I'm hopeful that it may prevent future waves, but this one we have to battle through to the end without a vaccine."

During a discussion at a Lancashire County Council cabinet meeting last week, the authority’s chief executive, Angie Ridgwell, set out a possible time frame for implementing a Covid vaccination programme in Lancashire.

“Our estimate is that it’s going to take six to nine months, when we have a vaccine, to vaccinate everyone in Lancashire," she said.

“We do have our directors of public health working collectively with the NHS to look at prioritising those people who should have vaccines in the first place - which of course will include our health and care workers, as well as the more vulnerable people in the community.

“We won’t have control over any private market, but we would seek to work with government to ensure that it wasn’t at the expense of the public health service vaccination programme."

To take part in the phase three Novavax trials at Layton Medical Centre or Blackpool Victoria Hospital, email Dr Rebecca Clark with your interest.

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