Stockport Planning Officer Is a Covid hero after taking part In vaccine trial

A senior planning enforcement officer has become a Covid hero after volunteering to take part in human trials in the search for a vaccination to combat the virus.

Stockport Planning Officer Is a Covid hero after taking part In vaccine trial

A senior planning enforcement officer at Stockport Council has become a Covid hero after volunteering to take part in human trials in the search for a vaccination to combat the virus.

Dave Westhead, 59, signed up to be part of the Phase 3 trials run by NHS researchers at Stepping Hill Hospital led by Dr David Baxter, the principal investigator at the hospital, through a link to the NHS Vaccine Registry on the NHS Test and Trace Test and Trace app. Trials are still ongoing for other Covid vaccinations, despite the NHS roll out of the Pfizer vaccine to priority groups, such as frontline healthcare workers, over 80s and care home staff and residents.

Having completed an online screening, Mr Westhead was one of 15,000 people nationally then invited to participate in the trial for a vaccine produced by American company Novavax. The vaccine has already passed Phase 1 and 2 trials to discover if it produces antibodies with no serious side effects and Phase 3 is to see how the vaccine is tolerated by a larger group and to see how long the anti-bodies last for. While the Pfizer vaccine is now being used in the largest NHS vaccination programme ever in this country, work on other Covid vaccines is still ongoing in the scientific community.

Mr Westhead, who lives nearby in Tameside, said: “Something needed to be done to fix this and so we could begin to get our lives back to normal. It needed people to put their hands up to volunteer, otherwise it will never get done.”

The tests were carried out at a community sports club in Stockport borough and following health tests, including having his temperature taken, examination of his heart and lungs, blood tests and then swabs to make sure he didn’t already have coronavirus, Mr Westhead was then given a shot. Half of the volunteers were given the potential vaccine with the other participants being given a placebo and Mr Westhead will find out after 12 months which cohort he was in.

Mr Westhead received a second booster jab a fortnight later, which will then be followed by three further blood tests to check if he still has antibodies at three, six & 12 months. He also had to complete an online diary of any symptoms he may have.

Mr Westhead added: “So far so good. I just had a bit of swelling around where they injected me like you would expect with any vaccination, but I’ve felt completely fine.”

Councillor Jude Wells, Stockport Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health, said: “Well done to Dave Westhead for volunteering for vaccine trials which will benefit not only the residents of Stockport but the entire world in helping to find a lasting solution to the Covid-19 situation.”

Other Covid-19 vaccine trials are currently taking place locally and more are due to be undertaken over the coming months, calling on volunteers who have signed up to the NHS Vaccine Registry.

The first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme has started: please do get the vaccination to help protect your loved ones and community. People will receive an invitation from their GP or the national NHS to come forward when it is their turn. Please do not contact the NHS to get an appointment until you get this invite. You can find more information on the vaccine on the NHS website.