Family-of-three including 18-year-old ALL volunteer for UK’s first coronavirus vaccine trials

A family-of-three including a teenager are taking part in a groundbreaking coronavirus vaccine trial.

Mum Katie, dad Tony and daughter Rhiannon Viney are among more than 1,000 participants taking part in the testing.

Scientists at the University of Oxford have packed five years of work into just four months in a bid to beat the global pandemic.

A family-of-three from Oxford have volunteered to take part in UK’s coronavirus vaccine trial

Katie Viney, 46, urged her husband Tony and daughter Rhiannon to sign up for trials with her

Katie Viney, 46, urged her husband Tony and daughter Rhiannon to sign up for trials with her

Nurses take nasal swabs of staff at Churchill Hospital, where the vaccine trials will take place

Nurses take nasal swabs of staff at Churchill Hospital, where the vaccine trials will take place

Volunteers will be injected with the new vaccine or a placebo which actually protects against meningitis, but won’t know which group they are in.

The COVID-19 trials are taking place at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, Oxon and started on Thursday. A second vaccine from Imperial College London is also hoped to face human trials in June.  

Teaching assistant Katie, 46, saw the plea for healthy volunteers and urged her husband and their 18-year-old daughter to sign up with her.

The mum-of-four said: ‘I had my screening last Friday and it was very thorough.

‘Blood pressure, they listened to my heart, they did urine checks, they go through what the trial entails, then it gets sent to my doctor who sends over your medical records.

‘If you don’t get through, at least at the end of it you’ve had a full health MOT!

‘By and large it has been a very quick process: by Saturday morning my doctor had sent everything off and I was phoned by the team that afternoon to talk everything through.

‘It is like making history.’

Yesterday, one of Britain’s first participants, Simeon Courtie, told Good Morning Britain that volunteers have been warned they could experience mild flu like symptoms, such as a fever, as well as aches and pains.  

But Katie said she was not worried about any health risks from taking part in the trial because she believes the team have done everything they could to make it safe.

She added: ‘Lots of people are being very negative about it, but it is going to be safe, they are not going to take the risk with people’s lives.

‘I am keen to do my bit.

‘It is exciting, interesting, fascinating, and we are really hoping that this is the vaccine that works – but I guess you won’t know until we’ve done this.

‘I just want to help so life can return to normal. You have to live in a cave not to know somebody who is affected by this.


The science behind both vaccine attempts hinges on recreating the ‘spike’ proteins that are found all over the outside of the COVID-19 viruses.

Both will attempt to recreate or mimic these spikes inside the body. The difference between the two is how they achieve this effect. 

Imperial College London will try to deliver genetic material (RNA) from the coronavirus which programs cells inside the patient’s body to recreate the spike proteins. It will transport the RNA inside liquid droplets injected into the bloodstream.

The team at the University of Oxford, on the other hand, will genetically engineer a virus to look like the coronavirus – to have the same spike proteins on the outside – but be unable to cause any infection inside a person.

This virus, weakened by genetic engineering, is a type of virus called an adenovirus, the same as those which cause common colds, that has been taken from chimpanzees. 

If the vaccines can successfully mimic the spikes inside a person’s bloodstream, and stimulate the immune system to create special antibodies to attack it, this could train the body to destroy the real coronavirus if they get infected with it in future.

The same process is thought to happen in people who catch COVID-19 for real, but this is far more dangerous – a vaccine will have the same end-point but without causing illness in the process.

‘I want to do something useful to help and I feel like this is a great way.’

Her daughter Rhiannon, who is a university student, had a screening on Monday (20th) and is now waiting, like Mrs Viney, to be given a date to start the process properly.

Husband Tony, 53, who runs two pubs, will be screened next week.

This is where the scientists check for things like minor infections and illnesses that could skew the trial.

The couple have also decided to help the scientific research as a celebration of their weight loss.

Katie said: ‘We’ve lost a massive amount of weight since last year. They are saying if you’re obese and you get coronavirus your chance of survival is less.

‘To me, because we’ve lost the weight, it’s even more important that we can take part: last year we wouldn’t have been able to do this, we would have been way too obese.

‘I really do hope this is the cure.’

The university has already revealed some information about how the trial process is likely to work.

It said that on the first day only two participants would be given the trial vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and one person with the controlled vaccine.

The trial vaccine is made up of genetically modified, weakened version of the common cold virus – which is similar to the COVID-19 coronavirus – with added proteins.

These three people will be watched for 48 hours.

Another six people will then be vaccinated – and this time half of the volunteers will receive the trial vaccine.

On the fifth day of the trial a larger group of volunteers will be called up to the post with people like the Viney family being given a date to start the trial.

Each volunteer will be given an e-diary (an online system to fill out) to record any symptoms they have for the first seven days after they are injected – they can also flat whether they feel unwell for three weeks.

An early version of part of the vaccine was already given to 320 people, who only reported minor side effects like a temperature, headache or a sore arm.