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‘Step forward!’ says hundredth participant to join Leicester COVID vaccine trial

‘Step forward!’ says hundredth participant to join Leicester COVID vaccine trial

The one hundredth volunteer in Leicester has joined a COVID-19 vaccine trial run by staff through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Patient Recruitment Centre: Leicester (PRC) based at Leicester General Hospital.

John, an assistant contracts manager, signed up to the NHS Vaccine Research Registry when it was launched in July of this year.

He said: “I joined the registry to help society beat the virus. The pandemic has been both challenging and changing in equal measure for me, and I wanted to do my bit. If everyone does a little, we achieve a lot together.”

The phase 3 vaccine trial is testing the safety and effectiveness of a two-dose regimen of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate which uses a weakened common cold virus and a part of the COVID-19 virus to stimulate the immune system to later fight a real COVID-19 infection. 

John received an email about the new vaccine trial when it was launched in Leicester. He said: “The whole process was very smooth and easy. I was sent some documents to read to help me decide if I wanted to take part. There was no pressure and everything was explained clearly and in easy-to-understand language. The appointment was arranged by email and then I went for the screening and my first injection last Monday.”

As the trial is a ‘double-blinded, randomly controlled’ study, neither John nor the study doctor knows whether he has received the vaccine or a placebo.

Adrian Palfreeman, consultant in infectious disease at Leicester’s Hospitals and Principal Investigator for the trial, said: “We would like to reassure people that if you are invited to receive an approved vaccine and have taken part in this trial, you won’t be disadvantaged. Our team will be able to provide advice on how to proceed.

He added: “On behalf of the study team at the PRC in Leicester, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in the vaccine trial so far, and look forward to welcoming more participants through our doors in the coming weeks.”

When not working, John will be using his time in lockdown to tend his garden, which he says is ‘looking exceptionally tidy’. He urges others to consider taking part, particularly people from ethnic minority backgrounds. He said: “The broader the range of volunteers the better the understanding and development of a vaccine for all will be. We are all unique individuals so step forward with your uniqueness!”

The trial, which recruited its first participant on 26 November, has met this extraordinary milestone in less than three weeks. The PRC is on course to recruit 200 participants by Christmas.

To find out more about this vaccine trial and to see if you can take part, please visit: https://local.nihr.ac.uk/prc/leicester/patients/get-involved.htm