Vaccine trial gamble pays off for research volunteers in local health board area 

Anni Donaldson took part in the study by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s research team.

By Lucy Ashton

When Anni Donaldson signed up for the Novavax vaccine trial last summer, there was a 50/50 chance of receiving protection from COVID-19.

She was one of 517 people in Glasgow who took part in the study facilitated by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s research team. And one of 15,000 participants across the UK.

It wasn’t until Anni, 68, received the call from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s vaccine team alongside those in her age group did she learn that she already had the protection she needed from COVID-19.

“It was incredible news. It felt absolutely amazing, and I even felt retrospectively happy for myself all over the last few months knowing I had had protection and not realised it.

“Last summer when I signed up for the trial, we all knew a vaccine was our way out of this but none had been approved yet. I’m a child of the 1950s and have benefited from vaccines all my life.”

NHSGGC’s research team have ‘unblinded’ the participants involved in the Novavax trial who have received their invitation for a vaccine from the UK-wide programme.

Now, 39% of those involved, 204 individuals, have found out if they had received the Novavax vaccine or the placebo.

Chloe Cowan, Clinical Research Manager, NHSGGC, said: “We would rarely unblind participants during a clinical trial so this is quite unique.

“Once the participant has been offered the vaccine, we unblind them straight away to see whether or not they should attend without delay. This means we can cancel the appointment if they had already received it and offer the slot to someone else.

“Thanks to the efficiency and speed of the roll-out of the national vaccine programme, many of our participants have already found out their result.”
COVID-19 research this past year has relied on volunteers from the public getting involved.

NHSGGC’s research team with the help of the public have contributed to breakthroughs in COVID-19 research. Alongside the Novavax trial,
NHSGGC has contributed to the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine, and the RECOVERY trial which resulted in the first effective treatment of COVID-19.

Anni Donaldson commented, “Getting involved in the trial was part altruism, part self-interest. I felt fully informed during the process and supported by the research team.”

Professor Julie Brittenden, Director of Research and Innovation, commented: “Thanks to Anni and everyone who has volunteered to improve our understanding, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. This kind of research will benefit us all. We encourage everyone to look at what studies we offer to see if they would be interested.”

NHSGGC is currently recruiting members of the public to help test new COVID-19 treatment if they have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19.

The study, Glasgow Early Treatment Arm Favipiravir (GETAFIX), will assess the effectiveness of an antiviral tablet to help with symptoms and reduce the time it takes to recover from COVID-19.

For more information about the Glasgow Early Treatment Arm Favipiravir, visit:

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