A NEW Covid-19 vaccine that is being trialled at GP surgeries in West Oxfordshire has reached an important milestone.

More than 400 people in Oxfordshire signed up to take part in the multi-national study from the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, which will test the safety and effectiveness of the company’s two-dose regimen vaccine.

They were recruited by the Windrush Medical Practice in Witney and the Eynsham Medical Centre, which are working together and are the only GP-led facilities in the country to be chosen to take part in the trial.

They are among a number of sites across the UK including Cardiff, London and Manchester, with recruitment set to be complete in March for the 12-month study.

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Dr Nick Thomas, principal GP at Windrush Medical Practice, said he and his team have been working up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week to deliver the trial.

Speaking about the number of people who have volunteered, he said: “We have had an overwhelming response to this and currently, we are sixth in the world for recruitment for this vaccine trial.

“It has been amazing to be part of this and we are all so proud of the work.

“People just want to help.”

Dr Thomas also said that people from as far away as Amersham, Swindon, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Cheltenham have joined the trial.

He added: “This really has reached people and inspired them to be part of this.”

The doctor revealed that the second part of the trial, which is boosters – the extra administration of a vaccine after an initial dose – began with the first people receiving it last Saturday.

Speaking about the process, Dr Thomas said that it had been ‘a long road with a lot of hard work’, and he thanked the National Institute for Health Research and the Clinical Research Network for the support.

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The 400th volunteer to sign up locally was Roger Tritton, who lives in Long Hanborough, near Witney.

The 56-year-old product manager, who has lived in the village for more than 25 years, was already on the register for vaccine trials when the practice reached out and he was pleased to sign up and do his bit.

Mr Tritton had his first injection – either of the drug or of placebo – on January 19 and said this week that he felt ‘fine all the way through’ and had not experienced any side-effects.

He was given the injection by a a nurse from Oxford University Hospitals NHS trust.

He will have a consultation with the clinicians in a couple of weeks time and, if it all goes to plan, he will receive a second dose after two months.

Explaining why he decided to take part in the trial, Mr Tritton commented: “To put it simply, because they needed volunteers.

“The more licensed vaccines there are for Covid-19, the better.

“This is the first vaccine trial I have been part of and I am very excited.

“I can only congratulate the local practices for getting involved in this.”

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