North East hospital to host major Covid-19 vaccine trial in world first
A major trial of a potential Covid-19 vaccine is to be tested at a hospital in the North East in a world first.
Thousands of volunteers will be invited to take part in the advanced study to test the effectiveness of a promising new vaccine developed by the American biotechnology company Novavax.
It will be the first final Phase 3 study of the Novavax vaccine in the world where its effectiveness will be tested on much more people than previously including those from a variety age groups and backgrounds.
The study will be led by the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance staffed by medical and research staff from three acute health trusts in the region.
And it will be based at the University Hospital of Hartlepool in Holdforth Road.
If successful, 60 million doses of the vaccine ordered by the Government will be made in Billingham at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’s facilities.
Vaccine trial Chief Investigator Professor Paul Heath said: “This is only the second Phase 3 vaccine study to be initiated in the UK, and the first Phase 3 study 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.”
Volunteers from the North East and North Cumbria who signed up to NHS Vaccines Registry will be invited to take part in the study.
Justin Carter, Research and Development Director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hartlepool hospital, said: “We are proud that the three acute hospital Trusts in our region are coming together to provide our patients with the chance to take part in vital Covid vaccine research, which is the next step in our fight against this disease.”
Backing the Hartlepool trials, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “We are fighting coronavirus with all our might and we all have our part to play.
"One of the most effective ways we can defeat coronavirus is by finding a safe successful vaccine as quickly as possible, so that our lives can start returning to normal.
“I am incredibly proud of the 250,000 invaluable volunteers who have signed up for vaccine clinical studies across the UK.”
Professor Caroline Wroe, of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), added: “It's fantastic news that people in our region will have the opportunity to take part in these trials and help the NHS find the best vaccine to protect us against Covid-19.
"It’s a tribute to the quality of health sciences in this region that ground-breaking vaccines are being both produced and studied here.”
With several more studies for potential vaccines expected to start before the end of the year, UK researchers are calling for even more volunteers to sign up to take part in research.
They are particularly looking more volunteers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds as well as those with underlying health conditions and the over 65s.
To find out more visit www.nhs.uk/researchcontact