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Local people help Covid-19 research pass one million participants

Local people help Covid-19 research pass one million participants

More than one million participants (1,075,000) have now taken part in COVID-19 research across the UK, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and NHS can proudly announce.

Local people across the West Midlands have played an important role in reaching this remarkable milestone, with over 37,000 participants taking part in 40 nationally-prioritised COVID-19 studies supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network West Midlands (CRN WM).

Since the onset of the pandemic, the NIHR has supported more than 180 studies into COVID-19 right across the country. Of these, more than 100 studies were also funded by the NIHR, amounting to more than £108 million given to dedicated COVID-19 research.

The milestone of one million participants has been achieved across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales by members of the public, NHS doctors and nurses, NIHR research staff and researchers, regulators, life science companies, research funders and policy makers. Across the region, all Trusts and CCGs have supported and delivered this vital research - by helping their patients to take part.

Their efforts have enabled world-leading research into therapeutics such as dexamethasone and tocilizumab, delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and more. Ground-breaking platform studies such as RECOVERY, PRINCIPLE and REMAP-CAP have all made a significant contribution to the global understanding of COVID-19.

These discoveries have significantly improved outcomes for people who get the virus, especially those most at risk of becoming severely unwell and hospitalised. Without such significant support from the public, this vital research would not have been possible.

Thanking our local research and NHS heroes

To coincide with the announcement of one million participants, the NIHR and NHS are jointly launching the #ResearchVsCovid ‘thank you’ campaign to celebrate the efforts of participants, researchers and healthcare professionals for their involvement in COVID-19 research. Local people are encouraged to join in with their own thank yous to anyone they know who has been involved in COVID research in some way.

The campaign kicks off with a series of video thank yous to participants, researchers and NHS staff. These celebratory videos will feature well-known figures including England’s Chief Medical Officer Prof. Chris Whitty and NHS England Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens, and will draw attention to the incredible work and dedication that led to this research.

Professor Jeremy Kirk, Clinical Director of CRN WM said:

‘Coming forward to take part in Covid-19 research is one of the most important contributions people can make to ending this pandemic. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has volunteered, as well as those working to hard to run the studies.’

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England and co-lead for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), said:

'Reaching 1million participants in COVID-19 research shows the impressive selflessness of people across the UK who have volunteered to take part. This research has led to vaccines, better treatments and improved care.

‘A huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in, led or enabled the research.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said:

‘During the darkness of this pandemic, NHS clinical researchers, UK scientists and one million volunteer patients have together helped illuminate a more hopeful path for humanity.

‘Thanks to their remarkable and selfless work, they have made unique and decisive contributions to therapies and vaccines for our shared global fight against Covid-19. It is amazing to consider that more than one million people in this country who have selflessly volunteered to participate in our research will themselves help save over a million lives worldwide.’


Notes to editors:

#ResearchVsCovid - key statistics

*All data correct as of 9 March 2021*

A total of 1,075,000 participants have taken part in COVID-19 research, with 925,505 participants recruited to over 90 urgent public health (UPH) COVID-19 research studies;

149,286 participants have been recruited to 89 COVID-19 non UPH studies;
34,527 participants have been recruited to eight COVID-19 vaccine studies;
£108.4 million of funding from the NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has been provided to over 100 new, dedicated COVID research studies. These figures do not include pre-existing studies that were repurposed to deliver research into COVID-19 having previously been focused on other issues. (For a further breakdown see notes below.)

Minority ethnic participation in UPH therapeutic and vaccine studies was 9,915 - approximately 9% of the total.

The UK has achieved 'first global’ recruitment in at least six studies, meaning the UK was the first country to recruit a participant to a global study.

NIHR COVID-19 research

1] About the Urgent Public Health process:

Since the onset of the pandemic, the NIHR has played a critical role in the fight against this new disease. COVID-19 studies assessed as having the most potential to deliver evidence with the greatest impact within 12 months were prioritised and badged as ‘urgent public health’ research. These studies were fast tracked for set-up and delivery across the NHS through the NIHR Clinical Research Network - which also helps consent and recruit patients to take part.

2] Study participants and research data:

It is important to note that patients can take part in more than one study - for example in observational and interventional trials simultaneously - therefore the total number of participants does not equate to the same number of individual patients involved in studies. To ensure patient confidentiality, the NIHR does not keep data on individual numbers of patients.

3] Funding:

The NIHR has funded and co-funded a wide range of dedicated COVID-19 research studies.

These include studies identified through numerous funding calls jointly run with UKRI, totalling £71.1m.

The NIHR has also funded research into long COVID (£18.5m), preventing COVID in care homes (£1.7m), the long term systemic impact of COVID (£5.5m), and two rounds of funding in support of the global response to the pandemic (£11.6m).