Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Healthy volunteers in the UK needed for COVID-19 vaccine human trials

A scientist heading clinical trials for a possible COVID-19 vaccine in the UK said that the team is looking for volunteers who are willing to participate in the trials. Professor Robin Shattock, head of the vaccine team at Imperial College London, spoke on BBC’s Radio4 said that the team was looking for more healthy participants to take part in the trials.

Shattock says, “We are starting with a very few number of volunteers so we don’t want people to be disappointed if they are not immediately engaged in clinical trial. But we are looking for those volunteers and they are critically important. The first part of the clinical development is to check that it is really safe because it is going to be used in the general population.”

Reportedly, phase 1 of the clinical trials will begin with 300 people this week. October might see a larger, 6,000 person clinical trial as planned. Imperial hopes that COVID-19 vaccine distribution could begin early next year in the UK and other countries if these clinical trials prove successful.

The vaccine being developed by Imperial is an RNA vaccine that makes a “spike” protein on the virus surface, acting as an immune system provoker against the novel coronavirus. The same approach is being pursued by many scientists across the world for a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Shattock also notes that the team will be looking to see if the spike proteins provoke the type of immune response they are looking for, specifically to protect against the coronavirus.

“We will move into large-scale efficacy trials in October. Then it’s a numbers game. It depends on how many infections are ongoing in the community,” Shattock says. “If we see a lot of infection, we may get a result fairly quickly. If there are very few infections, obviously it will take a lot longer to get enough data to be able to prove that the vaccine works or not.”

You can sign up to be a volunteer on the Imperial College website at imperial.crf.nihr.ac.uk. Source: Science Focus.

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