"Our scientists and researchers are working day and night"
On September 25, 2020, 10,000 UK volunteers were invited to join a leading Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial. This comes as the number of people who have signed up to take part reached 250,000.
The potential vaccine is developed by US biotechnology company Novavax.
The Phase 3 study will test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine across a broad demographic of people.
Phase 3 studies involve thousands of people. This gives researchers insights into the effects of a vaccine on a much larger population than Phase 1 and 2 studies.
The Phase 3 trials started on September 24, 2020, and are the second to commence in the UK. They will be undertaken at a number of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) regional sites across the UK, including Lancashire, the Midlands, Greater Manchester, London, Glasgow and Belfast.
The NHS Vaccine 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 an effective vaccination.
Several Covid-19 vaccine trials are expected to start before the end of the year.
As a result, UK researchers are calling for additional volunteers to sign up to take part in clinical studies.
To have a better understanding of the effectiveness of vaccine candidates and help find a vaccine that works for as many people as possible, researchers are seeking more BAME volunteers as well as those with underlying health conditions and the over-65s.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“I am incredibly proud of the 250,000 volunteers who have signed up to play their part in the global fight against Coronavirus.
“Our scientists and researchers are working day and night to find a vaccine that meets the UK’s rigorous safety standards, but we need even more people from all backgrounds and ages to sign-up for studies to speed up this life-saving research.
“The more people that sign up, the quicker we can find a safe and effective vaccine, defeat this virus and protect millions of lives.”
The UK government has secured 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine. It will be manufactured using FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’ facilities in Stockton-on-Tees, northeast England.
This will ensure that the vaccine can be supplied as soon as possible once it is approved by regulators.
Professor Paul Heath, Novavax Phase 3 trial Chief Investigator and Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:
“This is only the second Phase 3 vaccine trial to be initiated in the UK, and the first Phase 3 trial with the Novavax vaccine anywhere in the world, which shows the importance that has been placed on rapidly finding a solution for this urgent public health need.
“The vaccine has successfully gone through its early safety trials and we’re extremely encouraged by its performance so far.”
“The NHS Vaccines Registry has been key in helping us quickly identify participants who fulfil the inclusion criteria for this study – particularly those from among groups most likely to benefit from a vaccine, such as the elderly.
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.
Gregory M. Glenn, M.D., President of Research & Development at Novavax said:
“Today marks an important and exciting advance in addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and around the world.
“We are confident in the safety of this vaccine and based on the successful Phase 3 clinical trial of our influenza vaccine built using the same platform, we are optimistic that NVX-CoV2373 will prove to be effective at preventing infection and reducing the transmission of the disease.”
If a vaccine is successful in clinical trials, they could start to be delivered to the UK in 2021.
It is expected that these vaccinations would first be given to priority groups such as frontline workers, ethnic minorities, adults with underlying health conditions, and the elderly based on Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice.
The public can offer support to speed up vaccine research and receive more information about volunteering for clinical studies by visiting the website.