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Volunteers needed for mpox vaccine study in sites across the North West

Volunteers from across the North West are being asked to join a study looking at the effectiveness of an investigational vaccine for mpox, previously known as Monkeypox.

This important study, which is taking place at sites across the North West and around the UK, is supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research and sponsored by Moderna, who developed one of the COVID-19 vaccines. The study is the first study that Moderna is running entirely in the UK.

Since 2022 there has been an increased transmission of mpox identified in the UK. Common symptoms of the mpox virus include a rash, fever, chills, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and sore throat. In the UK and Europe there is currently only one vaccine licensed for immunisation against mpox. 

Dr Rajeka Lazarus, National Co-ordinating Investigator for the study, said:

“Mpox is a global public health threat, and more vaccines are urgently needed to prevent future outbreaks 

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we were overwhelmed with the generosity of volunteers who came forward to take part in a number of vaccine trials. Without them, the advances we’ve seen would not have been possible. It would be fantastic to see the same support for mpox research."

Dr Matthew Hallsworth, NIHR Director of Strategic Partnerships, said:

“We’re really pleased that Moderna has chosen to run its mpox trial in the UK. This demonstrates our strength in clinical research. 

“Our partnership with Moderna ensures UK research is at the cutting edge of new vaccine technologies with the potential to protect against global health threats such as mpox and future pandemics. We hope that recruitment to this trial will be as successful as the Covid-19 vaccine trials that were run in the UK and encourage the public to help out where they can - whether that’s by volunteering or encouraging others.”

Volunteers aged between 18 and 49 years old, will be randomly selected to either receive 1 of 3 dose levels of the investigational Mpox vaccine, or a placebo. 

Investigational means it has not been approved by any of the regulatory agencies in the world, including the United Kingdom (UK) regulatory body, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA).

The study is taking place at multiple research sites across England.

Mohsina Yousif, of Liverpool, has been taking part in the trial at the NIHR Liverpool Clinical Research Facility (CRF).

The CRF is based at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, since November 2023. 

Mohsina is originally from Sudan, where the first case of mpox was reported after the World Health Organisation announced mpox as a global health emergency in July 2022.  

She got in touch with the CRF after seeing an advert in her local sports centre. The 44-year-old teaching assistant received the jab and has undergone a combination of in-person visits to the CRF and phone call appointments with staff. Her final appointment will be in April. 

Speaking about why she wanted to be part of the research, Mohsina said: “I did it to help the NHS and to help people. I like to volunteer and help, and being part of this trial was a great way to do that. I’m also very interested in things like this and wanted to have a go and see what being on a trial like this would be like. The research team are beautiful people and it’s been an excellent experience. 

“To other people, I would say ‘why not?’. If you are healthy and want to help people, you could potentially take part and be part of this research. I would encourage people to take part.”

Daniel Rawson, of Stockport, has been taking part in the trial at the Medicines Evaluation Unit (MEU) in Wythenshawe, Manchester. 

The 48-year-old milkman is nearing the end of the trial which he consented to join after receiving an invitation via the MEU mailing list. 

He said: “I’ve only been on one research trial before this. I thought I would do my bit and try and help them along. It is a nice feeling to take part. Obviously, nobody wants to be ill, no matter what the condition is, and I thought I don’t mind being involved to try and find another possible resolution to the illness. 

“The MEU have accommodated me very well to fit my visits around my work hours and the staff are always helpful. If you’ve got any questions, they will help you straightaway and that’s one of the best things about it. My message would be that people are needed to actually help with the trial, so if you’re able to, please come along and give a helping hand.”

Health and care research can only improve and save lives with the help of volunteers. To find out more about participating in this study, visit the trial website. For information on other studies you can be involved in, please visit the Be Part of Research website.