In this story: COVID-19 /

"I was surprised when folk congratulated me for volunteering and began to reflect on my motives."

“Hearing a call out late last summer by Nicola Sturgeon for COVID-19 vaccine trials  volunteers,  I thought. ‘science needs me’. I registered my interest and by October was at Glasgow Royal Infirmary taking part in the Novavax study – the largest ever double blind, placebo-controlled trial to be undertaken in the UK.

After a mini-medical I was good to go. There were information sheets to be read, consent forms to be signed and discussions with the friendly research team. I learned how to self-administer a COVID-19 test and was given my first injection.  I downloaded an app to record any post-jag symptoms and sent home with a thermometer and a pack of COVID-19 test kits just in case. In this blind trial, I had a 50:50 chance of receiving the study vaccine or a saline placebo. I had zero symptoms following both doses administered three weeks apart.

I was surprised when folk congratulated me for volunteering and began to reflect on my motives: how did I end up drifting into a COVID-19 vaccine trial?  I had read all the narratives and counter-narratives about the pandemic but have had every jag going my whole life as have my children. Jags are good – helping develop a new COVID-19 vaccine was a no brainer. Watching the spread and impact of this awful disease and seeing how lockdown has shrunk our world, I was afraid to contemplate the consequences for young people and for our post-Covid world.

Receiving a vaccine is an individual act which works for the common good. In a vaccine trial, the 50:50 chance of hitting vaccine gold was good enough for me.  My COVID-19 jag appointment letter arrived in February. The researchers unblinded me in jig time. I had received both doses of the Novavax study vaccine which, early results were showing, was 89% effective!  I felt terrifically optimistic as I basked in a rare but perfect harmony of self-interest and altruism.”


You can follow Dr Anni Donaldson on Twitter at @AnniDonaldson, or to find out about her work into violence against women you can visit her website (this link will take you away from our website).

Read more of the ALLIANCE’s Humans of Scotland series.

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