The first volunteer to receive an injection in the UK human trials for a coronavirus vaccine was a microbiologist celebrating her 32nd birthday.
Elisa Granato said she was “excited” to help researchers at the University of Oxford find a way to fight back against the disease sweeping the globe.
“Since I don’t study viruses, I felt a bit useless these days, so I felt like this is a very easy way for me to support the cause,” she said.
Ms Granato was followed by cancer researcher Edward O’Neill, who said volunteering was “the right thing to do to ensure that we can combat this disease and get over it a lot faster.”
They are just the first two of up to 1,102 participants recruited for the trial. Six more patients will follow on Saturday, with the numbers to rapidly increase from Monday.
Half of them will receive the potential Covid-19 vaccine and the others will receive a “control” vaccine for meningitis.
However, because this is a clinical trial, none of the volunteers will be told which one they have received.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the Oxford Vaccine Group, said she is ”very optimistic” about its chances for success.
She said: “There’s absolutely no suggestion we’re going to start using this vaccine in a wider population before we’ve demonstrated that it actually works and stops getting people infected with coronavirus.”
The group hopes to have at least a million doses of its candidate vaccine ready in September.
Other participants, who are due to receive their doses next week, have revealed how the team has explained the risks involved.
“We’ve had to give explicit consent at every step of the way,” Lydia Guthrie told BBC Radio 4. ”They’re really clear with us that as participants we can pull out at any time if we change our minds.”
She said that after receiving the jab should would keep a diary about how she feels and list any potential symptoms.
Meanwhile another team at Imperial College London is developing its own vaccine and hopes to start its own clinical trials in June.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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