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Volunteers in Yorkshire & Humber among 10,000 to take part in new COVID-19 vaccine studies

Volunteers in Yorkshire & Humber among 10,000 to take part in new COVID-19 vaccine studies

Ten thousand UK volunteers will from today (Friday 25th September 2020) be invited to join a leading phase three COVID-19 vaccine study, as the number of people who have signed up to take part in research hits 250,000.

The study will test the safety and effectiveness of a promising new vaccine, developed by US biotechnology company Novavax, across a broad spectrum of people, including those from a variety age groups and backgrounds. Phase 3 studies involve many thousands of people, giving researchers insights into the effects of a vaccine on a much larger population than phase 1 and 2 studies.

Calling on some of the thousands of volunteers who have joined the fight against Covid-19 through the NHS Vaccine Registry, the phase three trials are the second to commence in the UK and will be undertaken at a number of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) sites across the UK, including Bradford and Leeds.

The Registry was launched in July to help create a database of people who consent to be contacted by the NHS to take part in clinical studies, to help speed up the development of a safe and effective vaccine. 

With several more studies for potential vaccine candidates expected to start before the end of the year, UK researchers are calling for additional volunteers to sign up to take part in research. To better understand the effectiveness of vaccine candidates and help find a vaccine that works for as many people as soon as possible, researchers are particularly seeking more volunteers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds as well as those with underlying health conditions and the over 65s.

Professor Alistair Hall, Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network Yorkshire and Humber said: 

"This is a very innovative vaccine that uses a synthetic protein to stimulate an appropriate immune response in those who receive it.  

“The Yorkshire & Humber Clinical Research Network are very pleased to be taking a part in further testing through research. Together with the many volunteers we expect to make a significant contribution to advancing  knowledge that will help us to move forward in all aspects of our lives."

Professor Chris Twelves, Director of the Leeds Clinical Research Facility at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust said: 

"We are delighted to be in a position to test the COVID-19 Novavax vaccine here in Leeds. The research team here have worked incredibly hard to put plans in place to roll out vaccine research throughout the city and to ensure it's accessible to all."

Consultant Respiratory Physician Dr Dinesh Saralaya, who will be leading the study at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust said: 

“This is great news for Bradford and our ‘City of Research’ that at last the vaccine trials are getting underway.

“We are looking for thousands of volunteers for a number of vaccine trials. Bradford is part of the global race for a vaccine and we are calling on our local community to get involved. 

“This is the only way that we can save as many lives as possible during the pandemic if Bradford people sign up. It is also vitally important that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) sign up too.”

Chair of the government’s Vaccines Taskforce Kate Bingham said:

“Finding a safe and effective vaccine that works for the majority of the UK population is the best way to tackle this devastating disease. Whilst social distancing, testing and other measures can help reduce the impact of coronavirus, the only long-term solution to beating it will be finding a vaccine. One of the ways people can help with that is by signing up to the NHS Vaccines Registry, so they can be rapidly called.”

If any of the vaccines are successful in clinical studies, they could start to be delivered to the UK in 2021. It is expected that these vaccines would first be given to priority groups such as frontline health and social care workers, ethnic minorities, adults with underlying health conditions, and the elderly based on JCVI advice.

In August this year, the UK government and Valneva made a multi-million-pound joint investment in a vaccine manufacturing facility in Livingston, West Lothian, which will be at the heart of efforts to produce a new Covid-19 vaccine. This is in addition to the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), currently under construction in Oxfordshire, and the new vaccine manufacturing plant in Braintree, Essex recently acquired by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.

The UK public can support the national effort to speed up vaccine research and receive more information about volunteering for clinical studies by visiting www.nhs.uk/researchcontact