Former BBC presenter from Banbury area set to volunteer in COVID-19 vaccine trial

Simeon Courtie is not worried about the side effects. He only wants to do his part to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 6:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 3:59 pm

Nearly four weeks ago Simeon submitted an application to take part in the COVID-19 trial vaccine.

During the four weeks he completed a medical screening, and is now set to have the vaccine tomorrow (Wednesday April 29) at the Jenner Institute in Oxford.

The Oxford Vaccine Centre’s COVID-19 vaccine trial is being run by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group within the University of Oxford. Work started to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 earlier this year in January.

Simeon Courtie, who lives in Bodicote near Banbury, has volunteered to serve in COVID-19 vaccine trial

Simeon, a former BBC TV and radio presenter who now works as a communications consultant and writer, does not consider himself brave for stepping up as a volunteer in the COVID-19 vaccine trial.

He said: "For me, I can't wait to do it. It's exciting, and a privilege to be able to be a small part of such a scientific breakthrough.

"My motivation to apply is my eldest daughter, Ella, who is a research scientist and I know from her how difficult it is to get human volunteers.

"This seemed like a way I could help rather than sitting at home feeling useless (in lockdown)."

The trial started last week with the first person getting their vaccine on Friday April 24. He said this trial is testing for the safety of the vaccine, and there will be a second trial later to test for effectiveness.

In order to be eligible for the trial vaccine none of the volunteers could have ever shown any COVID-19 symptoms.

During his pre-medical screening Simeon was told about some of the possible side effects from the vaccination. He was informed it's 'quite likely' he may experience 'mild' flu-like symptoms as a result of receiving the vaccination.

He added: "I'm not being injected with Covid-19."

Simeon explained he's one of 510 volunteers for the trial. The volunteers are broken into three groups.

Two of the groups, split into 250 volunteers, for the trial include one who receives the new vaccine for the coronavirus, and the other where volunteers receive the vaccine for meningitis. A third group includes 10 volunteers who receive an increase dose of the new vaccine. None of the volunteers are told which type of vaccine they receive.

He added: "There is a small risk of something unknown happening."

Simeon is a communications trainer and experienced broadcaster. He has presented national television and radio for over 20 years, from his Children’s BBC days in the 90s, to hosting the All England BBC local radio evening show in 2018.

Simeon writes for Have I Got News For You, and won the London Book Festival grand prize for his comedy travel memoir, The Long and Whining Road.

Simeon lives near Banbury with his family.

He said: "I live in Bodicote with my wife, Jill, and three daughters, Ella aged 23, Bethan aged 21, and Edie aged 18, and they are all very supportive of my decision."

Volunteering for the COVID-19 trial vaccine has found Simeon taking on interviews with media from around the world ranging from the Good Morning Britain show on ITV, to CNN in New York, to Japanese TV through Skype, a Bulgarian media interview and multiple BBC interviews.

Simeon added: "I'm not worried about the side effects. I hope by talking about it, it will take a bit of the fear away about it. Maybe it will help them get more volunteers for the next trial."

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