Portsmouth legend Alan Knight's role in helping the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to offer the world a lifeline

Pompey legend Alan Knight has been at the forefront of testing the much-anticipated Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 5:16 pm
Alan Knight has been a test subject for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which was today granted UK approval. Picture: Habibur Rahman

In the battle to combat coronavirus, the drug has today been approved for UK use, with the first doses to be distributed from Monday.

For Knight, it represents encouraging development having volunteered to receive the injection on a test basis in October.

The 59-year-old visited Southampton General Hospital during a process involving two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, followed by subsequent weekly visits to monitor his health.

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Pompey’s club ambassador had offered to help earlier in the summer, yet was rejected on account of not fulfilling the required age criteria.

However, he was later approached to participate in Group 9, for those aged 56-69 years.

And Knight is delighted to learn of the vaccine’s progress.

He told The News: ‘It’s nothing heroic. I was just frustrated with everything going on and wanted to try to do something to get life back to normal.

Alan Knight has been busy in the community since the initial March lockdown, including assisting with food deliveries for Pompey in the Community

‘Maybe it was selfish, but to me this was constructive and the chance to do the right thing.

‘No doubt like many people, in the beginning I was bored. I tried to volunteer as an NHS Volunteer Responder, but there was a huge influx of people. Then I worked for Pompey in the Community for 10 weeks, which was really good and kept me sane.

‘I had also seen on the news about youngsters being guinea pigs, for want of a better word, for a new vaccine.

‘I looked it up online and registered, but was informed I was too old. Younger age groups were required initially.

‘Then in October I received an email saying they were looking for volunteers from the 56-69 age group and would I be interested?

‘I went through a screen procedure and then visited Southampton General Hospital for my first injection.

‘For me, someone who has a dreaded fear of needles, it was quite a big thing. I’m not too bad with stuff being put in, but when they are taking blood out I’ve been known to faint!

‘I didn’t this time. I was a little dozy, mind, it was like trying to get blood out of a stone, they struggled to find a vein.

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‘The thing is, you are blinded, you don’t know whether you’ve had the vaccine or not – even those who have given it to you don’t know. I’ve either had the vaccine or the placebo.

‘I suppose I’ll soon find out if they get in touch and reveal I need a vaccine.’

Through his long-serving Pompey ambassadorial role, Knight is a hard-working presence in charity and community circles.

The goalkeeper who made 801 appearances over four decades for the Blues was briefly back at Fratton Park earlier this month when a proportion of fans were allowed back.

And he’s optimistic about the future – and defeating coronavirus.

He added: ‘This vaccine is good news and hopefully it will be a game changer.

‘I don’t like these buzzwords if I’m honest, but I’m banking on this development changing things in the not too distant future. Perhaps now we can have a fairly normal Easter.

‘I have so much respect for the NHS, these fantastic nurses and doctors working with limited resources. They need help – hopefully that’s here.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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