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Ongoing need for COVID-19 vaccine study volunteers

Ongoing need for COVID-19 vaccine study volunteers

With a range of vaccine types needed to ensure people across the UK have access to one that works best for different groups of people, researchers are continuing to call for volunteers to continue to take part in clinical studies.

Members of the public are starting to receive approved COVID-19 vaccines, but approved vaccines are unlikely to be available to many people until well into 2021. Taking part in a study is the best way to help effective vaccines to be identified and made available to everyone earlier, and may even give you early access to a vaccine later found to be effective.

People interested in taking part in a vaccine trial are being asked to sign up to the NHS COVID-19 Vaccines Research Registry and so far over 33,000 people from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex have signed up to the registry.

In particular, the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry needs volunteers who are most vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus, including frontline health and social care workers and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.

People over the age of 65 are also being encouraged to sign up. Researchers need to trial the vaccines in people of all ages to make sure the vaccine is effective no matter how old someone is.

Gillian Fletcher, 74, from West Sussex has signed up to the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry. Gillian said: “When the pandemic started, there wasn’t a vaccine on the horizon but when the vaccine registry was launched it seemed like a really important thing to be involved in and so I signed up. If I’m contacted by researchers I will take part in a vaccine clinical trial, and if I’m not, I will have the vaccine when offered.

“I understand why people are cautious about the COVID-19 vaccine, but many people are alive today because people volunteered to take part in other vaccine clinical trials.”  

On why older people need to participate in health and care research Gillian continues: “Older people need to take part in vaccine trials and other health research. As you get older you’re more likely to suffer from more than one condition like diabetes and arthritis. The more people, with the sort of medical conditions experienced by many older people, taking part in research the better. By taking part in health research you are contributing to finding treatments for your condition which will benefit others.”

Professor Martin Llewelyn, lead for infection and urgent public health research within the Kent, Surrey and Sussex, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network commented: “It is crucial that researchers continue to develop a range of vaccines to ensure that people can access the most effective vaccine for them. For example, the most effective vaccine in young adults might not be the most effective vaccine in the over 65 groups. Essential research is still needed to answer important questions about what is the best vaccine for different people.

"People taking part in the trials will not be disadvantaged and can still have an approved vaccine when available. However, taking part in a study is the best way to help effective vaccines to be identified and made available to everyone earlier, and may even give you early access to a vaccine later found to be effective."

The NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry (www.nhs.uk/researchcontact) was launched in July 2020 to create a database of people who can be contacted by the NHS to take part in clinical studies, to speed up the development of a safe and effective vaccine.
 
The Registry has been developed by the government, in partnership with the NIHR, NHS Digital, the Scottish and Welsh Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive.
 
People who volunteer may be approached by researchers to discuss taking part in research studies in the UK. To find out more, search nhs.uk/researchcontact.