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In early 2020, adult volunteers were invited to participate in a first-in-human trial of the COVID-19 vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, in the United Kingdom (UK) at the height of the global pandemic when there was uncertainty regarding vaccine efficacy and side-effects. We conducted a retrospective survey of these uniquely situated individuals to gain insight into their views about the risks, motivations, and expectations of the trial and potential vaccine deployment. Our data from 349 respondents show that these volunteers were educated to a high-level with a clear understanding of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an appreciation of the role of science and research in developing a vaccine to address this global problem. Individuals were primarily motivated with altruistic intent and expressed a desire to contribute to the scientific effort. Respondents appreciated that their participation was associated with risk but appeared comfortable that this risk was low. Through our analysis, we highlight these individuals as a group with strong levels of trust in science and a sense of societal responsibility, and therefore are a potential valuable resource to improve confidence in novel vaccines. Vaccine trial participants could offer a credible collective voice to support positive messaging around vaccination.

Original publication




Journal article


Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics

Publication Date





Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford - Old Road Campus, Oxford, UK.


Humans, Vaccines, Vaccination, Retrospective Studies, Adult, Pandemics, COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19