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More than 120,000 Eastern volunteers thanked for taking part in research last year

Suraj, who took part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial in Norfolk stands in front of Norwich Market.

It has never been more important for people to take part in health research, and this International Clinical Trials Day (Thursday 20 May) the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is saying thank you to everyone who has supported and participated in their work over the past year.

Since 1 April 2020, more than 120,000 (122,876 at 31 March 2021) participants across the eastern region have taken part in research supported and/or funded by the NIHR, the largest funder of health research in the country. This has been across 578 studies, 39 of which were Urgent Public Health studies, including studies dedicated to finding treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

The NIHR’s Be Part of Research campaign is highlighting the vital difference these clinical research volunteers have made over the pandemic, and aims to help even more people to get involved.

One such local participant is Surajit, from Norfolk, who took part in a clinical trial to find a vaccine for COVID-19 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

He said: “Everybody wants to try and do their bit, don’t they? Because I have type 2 diabetes and my background is Indian, I’m in a slightly higher risk category so I couldn’t get too close to the frontline, but I really wanted to do something.”

Surajit answered the call for volunteers to take part in the Novovax research trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) to test the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373.

He said: “Ultimately, we all benefit from research, so I’m glad I’ve taken part in that. Hopefully it will benefit mankind, and if the Novavax vaccine is approved for use it would be nice to know that I contributed.”

Since taking part in the Novavax study, Surajit has not only added his voice to a new NIHR panel to help researchers improve patients’ experience, he has also been inspired to become one of the NHS’s workforce as a Dispenser at a local GP practice!

Dr Helen Macdonald, Chief Operating Officer for the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network in the Eastern region, highlighted the importance of volunteers participation, saying:

“We’re extremely grateful to Surajit and all our other Eastern volunteers who take part in research. The vital discoveries that have been made in finding treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, as well as all other conditions, are thanks to the generosity of participants who give their time and our extremely proficient NIHR research teams in this region and beyond. We really hope more people will join this community and chose to be part of research”

If you would like to find out how you can get involved in research, including joining a public panel, find out more on the NIHR’s website at www.bepartofresearch.uk.