Thanks to more volunteers joining studies and the funding into dozens of Urgent Public Health research studies, more and faster results have been achieved.
Here are just five ways that research has played its part in the fight against coronavirus:
Volunteers step up for Covid-19 Vaccine Study
Research Team in the Vaccine Hub
Volunteers have been signing up at Barnsley Hospital for the latest COVID-19 Valneva vaccine study to be rolled out across the UK – with a local collaboration between Barnsley and Rotherham hospitals.
More than 100 local volunteers have responded to the study with the first cohort being vaccinated at a temporary ‘hub’ at Barnsley run and co-ordinated by NHS staff and hospital volunteers.
Jan Micallef, Research & Development Project Manager, said: “We have had an excellent response from volunteers especially as we had only a short time to recruit them. The Research & Development Team have been amazing in contacting local businesses and organisations to spread the word, and the people of South Yorkshire, particularly Barnsley and Rotherham have proved to be very altruistic in stepping up for the study to help research. Our hospital volunteers have also been great in assisting in the hub.”
4,000 participants are being recruited across the UK, and everyone involved in the study will receive two active vaccine doses, administered in a four-week interval. Those enrolled in the study over the age of 30 will be randomised to receive two doses of either the Valneva vaccine, or the approved Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Participants have a preliminary screening online and from that go through to the next stage.
Jan added that the volunteers will be followed up for a year with seven appointments to check on their progress. Among the first volunteers in Barnsley were Chris Turner, 50, from Dinnington, and Kat Harbourne, 36, from Rotherham. Chris, who works for Sheffield City Council, said: “I’d not had a call-up for the standard vaccines – I think it may have been because I’d moved house – and I found out through Rotherham Hospital that they were looking for volunteers for this study. The hub here at Barnsley is well organised and if it helps to get another vaccine approved, that is great.”
Kat, who works at BBC Radio Sheffield, said: “My mum had Huntington’s Disease and had so much support from the NHS so I thought it would be good to give something back. I like the idea of helping other people.”
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-supported Valneva Phase 2/3 study is open to healthy adults who have not had a previous COVID-19 vaccine.
Developed by Global biotech company Valneva, the vaccine is being manufactured at the company’s site in Livingston, West Lothian, and is the only inactivated, adjuvanted (an ingredient to create a stronger immune response) COVID-19 vaccine in clinical development in Europe.
Subject to successful Phase 2/3 data, Valneva aims to make regulatory submissions for initial approval in the autumn of 2021. If Valneva’s vaccine is shown to be effective, up to 250 million vaccine doses could be supplied to the UK and other countries around the world. As part of the UK government’s vaccine procurement approach, up to 100 million doses of this vaccine have been secured.
To register interest in vaccine studies and sign up to be contacted by researchers, people can visit the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry (http://www.nhs.uk/researchcontact).
Volunteering for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials:
People wishing 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 effective vaccines for coronavirus can be found as soon as possible.The service was commissioned as part of the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce in conjunction with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Governments.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 5 minutes to complete.More information can be found: NHS.UK/coronavirus