In December 2020, Royal Star & Garter Chairman Major General Tim Tyler revealed he had received his first jab as part of a Covid-19 vaccine trial. In this update, he discusses his second jab, discovering whether he was given a placebo, and why we need to get vaccines out to less affluent countries.
I went for my second jab in the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine ‘two jab’ trial at the end of January. Unlike the first jab, I did have a reaction to this one – a short lived temperature with a quick recovery, just like my reaction to the flu jab last autumn. And three weeks ago I went for a check-up and blood test, presumably to see whether I have good Covid-19 anti-bodies! The team also took lots details of my reaction to the second jab. It is very evident that there is a strong emphasis on assessing the possible risks and side effects of the vaccine. These safety checks will go on for at least two years.
Since the first jab I have had to keep the study team updated on my health by completing a simple e-diary; I have been well and have had nothing to report. Even so, a doctor spent time checking my general health and ensuring that the study records were up to date. The study records include data about my working and family living patterns and these were updated too.
So much has changed since I had my first jab in November. The new more infectious variants have appeared, and the vaccination programme here has just passed the 20 million mark – amazing! When I was offered the NHS jab I was ‘unmasked’ and I had had the trial Janssen vaccine, not the placebo. As a result, I have not had the NHS vaccine.
Just today I have read that the USA regulators have approved it for use as a single jab with good results for preventing serious illness in lower risk groups and for a number of the worldwide variants. I think I am at the older end of lower risk groups and, fortunately, have no underlying health issues so I am hopeful that I am given a reasonable level of resistance. I have not been told when we are likely to hear the impact of the second jab on resistance levels but keep my fingers crossed that it will have an enhanced effect.
The good news about the Janssen jab is that it is relatively cheap and easy to store and so should be good for use in less affluent countries than ours. I joined this trial because I wanted to do ‘my bit’ and I am very pleased that I will be helping those countries. While we in the UK clearly need to get our situation under control we also need to assist the rest of the world in doing so too if we are to return to a life anything like we enjoyed before. If I may support our Patron, HM The Queen’s comments, having the jab not only gives us resistance as individuals but also helps protect others, home and abroad.