"we are urging more people to support our incredible scientists"
More people from BAME backgrounds and the over-65s are being asked to volunteer for clinical studies through the NHS Vaccine Registry to ensure potential vaccines work for all.
Currently, ethnic minorities are underrepresented in vaccine clinical trials taking place across the UK.
Of the 270,000 people who have already signed up to the NHS Registry, only 11,000 volunteers are from Asian backgrounds, 1,200 are Black, African or Caribbean.
In contrast, 93% of people from non-ethnic minority groups have already signed up.
A diverse pool of volunteers will help researchers better understand the effectiveness of each vaccine candidate.
With six different Covid-19 vaccines currently progressing in the UK, thousands of people from different ages and backgrounds are urgently needed to help speed up their development and ensure they work effectively for the whole population.
This includes BAME citizens. According to Public Health England (PHE), people from Black backgrounds are more statistically more likely to contract Covid-19, while death rates are higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups.
In addition, those with chronic diseases or over the age of 65 are needed to take part in trials and also being urged to volunteer for clinical studies.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“Coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of their background, age or race. To ensure we can find a safe and effective vaccine that works for everyone, we all need to get involved.
“That’s why we are urging more people to support our incredible scientists and join the 270,000 people who have already signed up so we can speed up efforts to find a vaccine to defeat this virus once and for all.”
Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch said:
“The UK is leading the world in the search for a Covid-19 vaccine. At home, we have to ensure every community trusts a future vaccine to be safe and that it works across the entire population.
“But with less than half a percent of people on the NHS Vaccine Registry from a Black background, we have a lot more work to do.
“That is why I am urging more people from the ethnic minority backgrounds to join me in signing up to the NHS Vaccine Registry and taking part in a trial. Together we can be part of the national effort to end this pandemic for good.”
The NHS Vaccine Registry was launched in July 2020 to create a database of people who can be contacted to take part in clinical studies to speed up the development of a safe and effective vaccine.
Chair of the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham said:
“The only way to check how well a coronavirus vaccine works is to carry out large-scale clinical trials involving thousands of people.
“Researchers need data from different communities and different people to improve understanding of the vaccines. The only way to get this is through large clinical trials.
“We want to ensure the data we get actually represents the different people from different backgrounds in the UK.”
“This includes people who are over 65, frontline healthcare workers, or have existing health conditions, and we need people from the communities which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.”
Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Acute General Medicine and Principal Investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group said:
“We know that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are disproportionately affected by Covid in terms of severe disease and mortality.
“So when we do have a vaccine that we roll out to the general population, it’s really important that we can demonstrate to people from these communities that we have evidence that the vaccine works.”
Dr Anna Goodman, who is leading the Novavax study, said:
“We are privileged to work in such a research-active trust serving such a diverse local population. The Novavax vaccine trial is one of several trials of Urgent Public Health importance in Covid-19 that we are currently running.
“Finding effective vaccines to prevent coronavirus is key to our global efforts to control the spread of this disease.
“Having participants in our Covid-19 trials who come from a range of backgrounds gives us the best possible chance of ensuring the findings of trials apply to everyone.
“We are hugely grateful to the Minister and all the other participants who are taking part in all of these research trials at Guy’s and St Thomas’.”
UK citizens can speed up vaccine research and receive more information about volunteering for clinical studies by visiting the NHS website.