A FAMILY who are taking part in Oxford University's world-first trial of a potential coronavirus vaccine have spoken of their pride at helping to make history.

Katie and Tony Viney and their daughter Rhiannon are among more than 1,000 participants now hoping they can help win the war against the pandemic.

The first trials of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate kick-started in the city yesterday.

It has been developed by scientists at Oxford University, who have reassured people that they are taking all the vital safety steps, despite its rapid development.

They have packed five years of work into just four months and have now recruited 1,112 volunteers who will be injected with the new vaccine or a placebo vaccine which actually protects against meningitis.

Those who sign up for the testing at the Churchill Hospital in Headington will not know which they are given.

Oxford Mail:

Teaching assistant Katie Viney saw the plea for healthy volunteers and urged her husband and their 18-year-old daughter to sign up with her.

The mum-of-four said: “I had my screening last Friday and it was very thorough – blood pressure, they listened to my heard, they did urine checks, they go through what the trial entails, then it gets sent to my doctor who sends over your medical records.

“If you don’t get through, at least at the end of it you’ve had a full health MOT!

“By and large it has been a very quick process: by Saturday morning my doctor had sent everything off and I was phoned by the team that afternoon to talk everything through.

“It is like making history.”

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The 46-year-old said she was not worried about any health risks from taking part in the trial because she believes the team have done everything they could to make it safe.

She said: “Lots of people are being very negative about it, but it is going to be safe, they are not going to take the risk with people’s lives.

“I am keen to do my bit.

“It is exciting, interesting, fascinating, and we are really hoping that this is the vaccine that works – but I guess you won’t know until we’ve done this.”

Mrs Viney, who works at Bure Park School in Bicester, said she keenly felt the importance of finding a cure to the deadly disease because of the impact it is having on the day-to-day lives of children.

Oxford Mail:

She explained: “I just want to help so life can return to normal. You have to live in a cave not to know somebody who is affected by this.

“I want to do something useful to help and I feel like this is a great way.”

Her daughter Rhiannon, who is a university student, had a screening on Monday and is now waiting, like Mrs Viney, to be given a date to start the process properly.

Her husband Tony, 53, who runs two pubs in Bicester, will be screened on Monday – this is where the scientists check for things like minor infections and illnesses that could skew the trial.

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The couple have also decided to help the scientific research as a celebration of their weight loss.

Mrs Viney said: “We’ve lost a massive amount of weight since last year. They are saying if you’re obese and you get coronavirus your chance of survival is less.

“To me, because we’ve lost the weight, it’s even more important that we can take part: last year we wouldn’t have been able to do this, we would have been way too obese.

“I really do hope this is the cure.”

Oxford University has revealed some information about how the trial process is likely to work.

Oxford Mail:

It said that on the first day, yesterday, only two participants would be given the trial vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and one person with the controlled vaccine.

The trial vaccine is made up of genetically modified, weakened version of the common cold virus – which is similar to the Covid-19 coronavirus – with added proteins.

These three people will be watched for 48 hours.

Tomorrow another six people will be vaccinated this time half of the volunteers will receive the trial vaccine.

On the fifth day of the trial a larger group of volunteers will be called up to the post with people like the Viney family being given a date to start the trial.

Each volunteer will be given an e-diary (an online system to fill out) to record any symptoms they have for the first seven days after they are injected – they can also flat whether they feel unwell for three weeks.

An early version of part of the vaccine was already given to 320 people, who only reported minor side effects like a temperature, headache or a sore arm.