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Twenty thousand people in the West Midlands contribute to Covid-19 research in just eight months

Twenty thousand people in the West Midlands contribute to Covid-19 research in just eight months

More than twenty thousand people from the West Midlands are among the 600,000 people from across the UK who have now taken part in National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) supported urgent research into Covid-19, in just over eight months.

NHS hospitals, GPs and care homes in the West Midlands have played a vital role in delivering studies at pace and scale, enabling patients to benefit from the latest treatments for Covid-19 - in addition to helping tens of thousands of people gain early access to potential vaccines through trials running across the region.

Professor Jeremy Kirk, Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network West Midlands said: ‘The vast number of participants regionally and nationally shows the remarkable effort to tackle the pandemic. However, it is vital that this momentum continues, alongside recruitment of volunteers to non-Covid research.’

As soon as the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was realised, the NIHR acted swiftly to roll out and deliver a range of urgent public health (UPH) research into the disease.

Since then, the NIHR has supported 73 UPH studies into Covid-19 - investigating a range of potential treatments, vaccines, observational studies to learn more about the disease, and research into new diagnostic technology.

NIHR and NHS supported research has already led to the world's first effective Covid-19 treatments - corticosteroids dexamethasone and hydrocortisone. Many more new studies, investigating some of the world’s most exciting Covid-19 treatments and prophylactics to prevent disease, are continually being added to the NIHR’s UPH research Portfolio. These include cutting edge studies into new monoclonal antibodies, inhaled antiviral treatments, and a range of promising potential vaccine candidates.

Despite achieving this impressive recruitment milestone - the NIHR is stressing the need to maintain the speed of recruitment and the high uptake of participants to Covid-19 research.

To ensure that ongoing and future studies are able to establish the very best vaccines that will work for as many people as possible - while ensuring the UK and other countries have a range of safe and effective products - it is vital that healthy participants continue to volunteer for these vaccine studies.

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “The scale at which research into treatments for Covid-19 has taken place in the UK is unparalleled, and the determination for the country to come together to beat this virus is extraordinary.

“I want to thank every single person – from staff members to participants - who have taken part in this research. Everyone’s involvement has provided a vital link in the chain to help us better understand this virus and I am confident we will find a resolution through the ingenuity of science.

“We understand this virus infinitely more than at the start of this pandemic and each of us must continue to look at what role we can take. By coming together and using our scientific prowess, we will prevail.”

UK Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said: “The willingness of the UK public to participate in Covid-19 research has been inspiring. Science is the only way out of this pandemic, it will find new ways to prevent and treat the virus and this will allow us to gradually return to normal life. This science cannot happen without those who volunteer to take part in research.

“The National Institute for Health Research, as part of the wider UK research infrastructure, has been key to the UK’s success in delivering research with actionable findings, which have had an impact on the treatment of Covid-19 patients in the UK and around the world”.
Find out more about the NIHR’s nationally prioritised urgent public health studies at: www.nihr.ac.uk/covid-studies/

Notes to editors
People who want to volunteer to support clinical trials can sign up for information on Covid-19 vaccine trials with the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry, developed in partnership with NHS Digital. It is helping large numbers of people to be recruited into trials rapidly over the coming months - potentially meaning an effective vaccine for coronavirus can be found as soon as possible.

Anyone living in the UK can sign up online to take part in the trials through the NHS, giving permission for researchers to contact you if they think you’re a good fit.

Once you sign up, you can withdraw at any time and request that your details be removed from the COVID-19 vaccine research registry. The process takes about five minutes to complete.

More information can be found at: NHS.UK/coronavirus