'Do anything you can to prevent you from getting this' - Leeds Covid-19 'long-hauler' urges people to join vaccine trials

A Leeds Covid-19 survivor who was left struggling for months with the after-effects of the virus has urged people across the city to join the recruitment drive for the vaccine trials.
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Ben Fisk, 33, said he is only now beginning to feel like his old self - four months on from when he first experienced coronavirus symptoms back in mid-April.

He urged people in Leeds to "do anything you can to prevent you from getting this" and to sign up to take part in the vaccine trials - which NHS bosses are aiming to begin in October.

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Covd-19 'long hauler' Ben Fisk, of Leeds. Picture: Bruce RollinsonCovd-19 'long hauler' Ben Fisk, of Leeds. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Covd-19 'long hauler' Ben Fisk, of Leeds. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

But after experiencing a bout of classic Covid symptoms - lengthy cough, breathlessness, fever, shakes, stomach and chest pains - he sadly became one of the growing number of people to experience long-term post viral effects.

These 'long-haulers', such as Ben, become affected by a catalogue of debilitating symptoms including chest, throat and head aches, tingles in hands and feet, fatigue, dizziness and gastro-intestinal problems.

At the time, Ben described it as feeling like he was "a 90-year-old in a 33-year-old's body", adding: "Even simple things like walking up the stairs leaves you breathless on some days."

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Thankfully, he feels he has recently turned a corner and told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I have just started getting some energy. I've still got neurology tests [booked] and I still get tired but it's a massive improvement."

However he backed the calls for people to sign up to the vaccine trials and urged people to take the virus seriously.

"Coronavirus is so much more than just a mild, seven-day virus. So many of us out there have had long term complications lasting three to six months from coronavirus, that severely affect your life. It stops you from living a normal life basically and takes all this time to recover.

"It's very serious and not enough people are taking it seriously enough in terms of after-effects.

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"I would urge anyone who can to get involved. Not only in the trials but with the vaccine [once approved]. Do anything you can to prevent you from getting this - because it is not pleasant, to say the least," he said.

A major recruitment drive for the vaccine trials was launched earlier this month by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT).

Together with partners Leeds Community Health NHS Trust, Leeds CCG, Leeds and York Partnership Trust, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and the Yorkshire & Humber National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN), the new vaccine trial delivery team aims to recruit up to 250 participants a day from across the region.

Last week figures revealed Leeds was an early front-runner for the number of people signing up to take part - with 3,940 registering an interest within the first couple of weeks, the highest of any local authority in the UK.

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But NHS bosses have continued to urge "as many people as possible" to join the drive to help beat the virus.

Speaking about the figures Dr Phil Wood, chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust thanked those who had signed up already and said: "“An effective vaccine against the coronavirus is key to end the devastating impact the virus has had on the world and will help restore normality within the NHS.

“For this to happen it's important for large-scale vaccine studies that we get as many people as possible from our community to sign up to take part, to give researchers a better understanding of the effectiveness of each vaccine.”

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Thank you

Laura Collins