Sheffield nurse taking part in Oxford coronavirus trial reveals when vaccine could be ready
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Joan Pons Laplana, 45, who works as a senior digital charge nurse at The Royal Hallamshire Hospital, is one of tens of thousands of volunteers taking part in the final phase of the study, which produced promising results in its early stages.
Joan, who was named Britain’s nurse of the year in 2018, decided to take part after working in intensive care during the first peak of Covid-19.
He said: "Every study goes by phases. They have a number of things that each phase needs to have. Making calculations, it’s been calculated that the first day of arrival to finish phase III will be November 3.
“Phase IV will be to start the vaccine programme. Listening to the president or Argentina and Spain saying it’s going to be before Christmas, I arrived to that conclusion that it will be ready by the beginning of November, but everything depends if it gets the pass from the World Health Organisation.”
Chesterfield-based Joan, who has lived in England since 2000, added: “It’s not an official date but I’m pretty sure. Everybody wants the vaccine out as soon as possible. They are starting the production.”
Despite his optimism over a vaccine, the father-of-three urged caution in the meantime.
He said: “I’m worried at the moment by the increase of cases and local lockdowns. People need to take the measures seriously. The vaccine is coming soon but until then we can’t relax. If we relax, a lot of people might die.
"I don’t want any families to lose any more people. If everybody puts in more effort we can avoid a second wave.”
Joan admitted his heart ‘skipped a beat’ when he signed a health disclaimer to take part in the trial. He is part of ‘group four’, which consists of frontline staff who are likely to come into contact with the virus through their work.
He said: “I’m quite proud that I’m part of the solution. As a nurse, husband and dad this pandemic has shaped how we live. I can’t do a lot of things that I could and I have anxiety going to work and I have needed some psychological help.
"I don’t want to live in a future with this anxiety and with the virus dictating what I’m doing. I want to be able to live a life with hope and freedom and at the moment this virus is taking this away.”
He added: “Dr Gilbert, the lady who’s leading the research, she gave her triplets the vaccine. I don’t know any mother who will put their children in danger. If she thinks it’s OK for the children I thought it was safe for me.
"In my experience in 23 years as a nurse I don’t know about any people who have died because of a vaccine but I do know a lot of people who have died because they didn’t take it.”