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Target-hitting recruit to vaccine trial wants to be part of history

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Researchers running a COVID-19 vaccine trial through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Patient Recruitment Centre: Leicester (PRC) are celebrating the 350th volunteer, achieving their recruitment target for the trial two months ahead of schedule.

The phase 3 ENSEMBLE 2 study, which recruited its first participant on 26 November 2020, is testing the safety and effectiveness of a two-dose regimen of the Janssen vaccine candidate. It 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.

The 350th volunteer, Jack, explains why he felt it was important to take part: “Initially it was my girlfriend who suggested that we could be part of this so we signed up to the vaccine registry. When I got a call from the team in Leicester I was eager to take part so I could help others.”

Jack continues: “I have a degree in History and recognise that we are living through a really pivotal time. The development of vaccines will help get our lives back on track. It will be recorded in history and I want to be part of it.”

Dr Adrian Palfreeman, consultant in infectious disease at Leicester’s Hospitals and Principal Investigator for the trial, said: “I would like to sincerely thank all the volunteers taking part in this vaccine trial. We are thrilled to have reached our recruitment target six weeks after recruiting our first volunteer. During these truly difficult times, we have been overwhelmed by the support shown by local people, like Jack.”

The PRC Leicester is one of five in England dedicated to setting up and delivering late phase commercial clinical trials in the NHS at pace and scale. The PRC Leicester is hosted by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and based at Leicester General Hospital. Jack describes his experience in the PRC Leicester as “flawless”. He continues: “Everyone made me feel welcome and clearly explained everything to me.”

Professor Melanie Davies, Clinical Director of the PRC: Leicester, adds: “During this difficult time, our team has really come together, going above and beyond to reach this milestone, working long hours, showing true dedication and commitment to this important research. This is the first clinical trial completed by our PRC and to reach our recruitment target so quickly is a real achievement and one the team should be very proud of. We have already received some really fantastic feedback from volunteers on this trial about our new PRC, which has been really uplifting for staff.”

People interested in registering to take part in COVID-19 vaccine studies can visit www.nhs.uk/ResearchContact. By signing up to the COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry, potential participants let researchers know they are happy to be contacted to take part in future vaccine studies.

To find out more about PRC Leicester, please visit: https://local.nihr.ac.uk/prc/leicester/