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Exeter exceeds target recruiting 545 volunteers into one of the world’s leading COVID-19 vaccine studies thanks to overwhelming support from local residents and staff

PRC Exeter location

The Patient Recruitment Centre: Exeter would like to thank study volunteers and the clinical research delivery team following the announcement that Exeter has exceeded target for a leading COVID-19 vaccine study which has now closed to local recruitment.

The research team at PRC: Exeter, based within Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, received nearly two thousand expressions of interest to take part in the Novavax phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine study through the NHS Vaccine Research registry. The purpose of this study is to test the safety and effectiveness of this new vaccine, developed by US biotechnology company Novavax, across a broad range of people, including those from a variety of age groups and backgrounds.

This particular study aims to recruit 15,000 across the UK of which 545 Exeter-based participants were recruited against a local target of 500.

The overwhelmingly positive response from the public in signing up to take part was essential to the local success of this study. Recruitment took place over just five and a half weeks, and was supported by over 100 healthcare staff from across the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust facilitated by staff from other organisations including the University of Exeter, University of Plymouth, NIHR CRN South West Peninsula and local GP’s.  The initial visits for the study are being conducted at the Exeter Nightingale hospital whose staff have been extremely supportive of the trial.

The team completed over a thousand pre-screening phone assessments with potential volunteers which ensured a low screen fail rate when volunteers had their on-site screening visit at the Nightingale Hospital, which also meant DNA rates were very low.

The establishment of the Patient Recruitment Centre: Exeter at Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust earlier this year has allowed Exeter residents to be amongst the first people in the world to be able to contribute to this trial which could have global importance in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has secured 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine for the UK, which will be manufactured using FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’s facilities in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees should the results of the trial be positive. This will ensure that, once approved by regulators, the vaccine can be supplied as quickly as possible.

How you can support COVID-19 vaccine trials
Whilst this study has now closed to recruitment in Exeter, it is anticipated that other vaccine trials will continue to open in the UK. To find out more about vaccine research and local opportunities you can sign up to the NHS Covid-19 Vaccine Registry. By signing up you’ll be contacted with information about any trials you would be eligible to take part in.