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People from East Midlands play leading role in getting Oxford COVID vaccine approved

People from East Midlands play leading role in getting Oxford COVID vaccine approved

People from across the East Midlands played a key role in enabling this week’s distribution of the approved Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to members of the public across the UK by volunteering to take part in the trial which led to its approval.

The regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reviewed the data collected by the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine team researchers, including those based at the University of Nottingham Health Service. 560 participants from across the East Midlands volunteered for this pivotal study through Cripps Health Centre at the University of Nottingham. By taking part, local people played a crucial role in establishing the safety efficacy of the vaccine through this study which led to the vaccine being authorised for widespread use in record time.

Roll-out and delivery of the UK vaccine trial - including recruitment and vaccination of volunteers - was supported by the NIHR's 15 Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs), which extend across all areas of England. Working closely alongside the local NHS, CRN East Midlands played a key role in helping local people across the region to take part in this key study.

The development of the vaccine was also funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), as part of the joint rapid research response.

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

“It is very good news that the independent regulator has now authorised the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for use. There has been a considerable collective effort that has brought us to this point. The dedication and hard work of scientists, regulators and those who funded the research, such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) and United Kingdom Vaccine Network (UKVN), and the willingness and selflessness of so many volunteers who took part in the vaccine trials were essential in delivering this safe and effective vaccine. They deserve our recognition and thanks.”

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said:

“The regulator’s assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment, and an endorsement of the huge effort from a devoted international team of researchers and our dedicated trial participants.

“Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon as possible.”

Professor David Turner, Honorary Consultant in Clinical Microbiology at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, and lead researcher on the vaccine in Nottingham, said:

“This vaccine is of huge importance in the fight against Covid-19 and thanks to the collective efforts of colleagues across Nottingham, we have contributed to the national effort in bringing the vaccine to this stage. In very challenging times we have not only carried out a very urgent clinical trial but we have worked together to recruit volunteers from across the region to take part in this key study.”

Professor Stephen Ryder, Clinical Director of Research and Innovation at Nottingham University Hospitals, and Director of the Nottingham Clinical Research Facility, said:

“Nottingham CRF's role is to speed up the translation of scientific advances directly for the benefit of patients – and research into the Oxford vaccine has been one of our highest priorities over the last year. Our facilities, equipment, and the skills of our expert staff at the CRF meant we are ideally placed to support the first national trial of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I would also like to thank staff from Nottingham University Hospitals, who have been among the first to volunteer to take part in the trial, which in Nottingham is being co-ordinated by the Cripps Health Centre at the University of Nottingham. Their backing for this vital research is very much appreciated.”

Dr Simon Royal, site investigator at the University of Nottingham Health Service and Primary Care Clinical Specialty Lead for NIHR CRN East Midlands said:

“We are incredibly grateful to all the participants who have made today’s announcement possible and our colleagues at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospital NHS trust. As an NIHR CRN East Midland Primary Care Research Leadership site we have also benefited immensely from their support allowing us to deliver this complex study to time and target in very challenging times.”