Hospital staff, scientists and residents in Norfolk have joined the quest to find an effective Covid-19 vaccine by taking part in a new clinical trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
The NHS is playing a leading role in developing a vaccine for Covid-19 and NNUH has a key role in delivering a new vaccine clinical trial with support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Hundreds of participants – volunteers from the hospital, across Norwich Research Park and the local community – have joined the research study at the NNUH-run Clinical Research Facility at the Quadram Institute.
It comes after 15,000 UK volunteers were invited to join a new phase three Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial. The Novavax vaccine trial is a randomised controlled trial where half of the participants will receive two shots of the vaccine and the other half will receive two shots of a placebo.
The whole of NNUH’s research department – up to 50 staff, including research nurses, practitioners and administrators – have been diverted to work on Covid-19 studies, including the vaccine trial whilst continuing to run their own research portfolios.
Professor Jeremy Turner and Dr Christopher Jeanes are co-Principal Investigators of the trial at NNUH.
They said: “We are proud to be playing our part in this important national research to help find an effective vaccine for Covid-19. A huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to prepare for this vaccine trial, recruitment and vaccination and our wonderful research delivery team have really relished the opportunity to be part of this research. We have also had an overwhelming response from volunteers wanting to roll up their sleeves to be part of this research.”
Sam Higginson, NNUH Chief Executive, who is one of the 500 to take part in the vaccine trial, said: “I’m thrilled that we are playing our part in this vitally important research, which will hopefully lead to a successful Covid-19 vaccine in the future. I had no hesitation in putting my name forward to take part in this Phase 3 trial, which is testing the effectiveness of the vaccine. The team have received a lot of interest from potential participants and it is great to hear that so many staff and colleagues from Norwich Research Park want to take part in this study. Congratulations to the research team for their hard work on this.”
Dr Helen Macdonald, Chief Operating Officer for the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network in the Eastern region, said: “It is only through research that we can offer a chance to end this pandemic, and it’s vital that we find a vaccine that is effective for everyone, regardless of background. We’re delighted our NIHR staff within the NNUH are able to help bring this essential research to the region.”
David Parfrey, Chief Executive of Norwich Research Park, said: “Norwich Research Park has a unique mix of four world-leading research institutes, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and University of East Anglia on the same campus. It means that through, the power of collaboration, issues critical to the health of the nation and beyond can be tackled here in a unique way. The Covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly the biggest crisis the UK has had to deal with in a lifetime and it’s fantastic that colleagues at the Quadram Institute have joined forces with those at the hospital to actively work together on this, and that so many colleagues from across our Park have volunteered to participate in the trial.”