Urgent fight for an effective vaccine to combat Covid-19 comes to Leicestershire - volunteers needed for trials

The Government has developed a portfolio of six possible vaccines and secured access to 350 million doses to date

Monday, 16th November 2020, 4:38 pm
Updated Monday, 16th November 2020, 4:42 pm
Hospitals in Leicester are being catapulted into the front line of the urgent fight to find an effective new vaccine to combat Covid-19.

Hospitals in Leicester are being catapulted into the front line of the urgent fight to find an effective new vaccine to combat Covid-19.

A coronavirus vaccine study will open soon at Leicester’s Hospitals through the new Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC) in Leicester.

The centre is a Government-funded initiative through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The global investigation is in phase three.

It will test the safety and effectiveness of a new two-dose regimen for an anti-Covid-19 vaccine, which has been developed by Janssen, a pharmaceutical company owned by Johnson & Johnson.

Experts will investigate a vaccine that uses a part of the coronavirus, called the spike protein, which the immune system will then recognise and fight should you be infected.

Some 30,000 participants are set to be recruited worldwide – with 6,000 of them in the UK alone.

To take part in the study, you need to be aged 18 or older, with and without existing health conditions thought to be linked with increased risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms.

The study will follow participants for up to two years three months for signs and symptoms of Covid-19 to determine how long protection lasts.

The PRC is one of five in England, dedicated to setting up and delivering late-phase commercial clinical trials in the NHS.

PRC Leicester is hosted by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and based at Leicester General Hospital.

The study is also being supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network East Midlands.

Prof Melanie Davies, clinical director of NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre, Leicester said: “We are pleased to be able to offer our local community the opportunity to take part in this important study, particularly when nationally there is a significant increase in cases of Covid-19 in the community and being treated in hospital.

“Having been under lockdown measures for a prolonged period, the people of Leicester will understand how important it is to find an effective vaccine so we can try to resume some normality and fight this virus.”

She added: “The expertise and hard-work from our staff has also allowed Leicester to shine as a global centre for research.

“The opening of this vaccine trial is another milestone in that success-story.”

Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer, Johnson & Johnson, said: “We are delighted to be initiating our global Phase 3 trial in the UK to study the safety and efficacy of a two-dose regimen of our investigational Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

“This collaboration with UK researchers and the NIHR demonstrates our continued commitment to working together with partners around the world - and marks another positive step forward as we strive to find solutions to this global health crisis.”

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The start of further clinical trials in the UK is yet another step forward in the race to discover a safe and effective vaccine.

“It comes alongside recent news that we could be on the cusp of the first major breakthrough since the pandemic began.”

The Government has developed a portfolio of six possible vaccines and secured access to 350 million doses to date.

To register your interest in the vaccine trial in Leicester email: [email protected]