Covid-19 vaccine trial gets underway in Blackpool after army of civic-minded volunteers signs up

Thousands of people volunteered to take part in an American firm's Covid-19 vaccine trial, which got underway in Layton this morning.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 10:32 am

Some 500 people were urged to sign up for the phase three study, which signifies the last testing hurdle before the Novavax jab can be officially classed as safe and effective.

But the response was overwhelming, with 2,500 willing participants putting their names forward.

"The people of Blackpool never let me down," Dr Rebecca Clark from Layton Medical Centre, where appointments are now fully booked, said.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Special clinics are being held at the practice, in Kingscote Drive, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and weekends.

They will also be held at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Mondays and Fridays from October 5.

The trial is 'double-blind', which means volunteers - as well as medics - won't know if they have been given the vaccine or a saline placebo.

Participants will be asked to take part in at least six visits over the course of around 13 months for blood tests and to see if they've contracted Covid-19.

They don't get paid, though they can claim back certain travel expenses.

Dr Clark said: "This is really important for Blackpool. It's taken a lot of hard work to secure this for the Fylde coast.

"The only way out of this pandemic is with a vaccine. The purpose is to protect as many people as possible and allow them to build an immunity to the virus."

Dr Angela Parker, from the Vic's Patient Recruitment Centre, added: "I feel elated we've secured this for our residents. It's a fantastic opportunity for people.

"These vaccine trials aren't scary and everything is fully explained so people can make their own informed decisions.

"But a vaccine is our route out of this and we could potentially have one here that may help."

A total of 10,000 volunteers will be invited to take part in the new trial, which needs a large number of people to test the safety and effectiveness of the potential vaccine, which was created by US biotech company Novavax.

The Government has ordered 60 million doses, which will be made in County Durham if the trial, which is also taking place in Greater Manchester, London, Glasgow, and Belfast, is a success.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said recently: "Our scientists and researchers are working day and night to find a vaccine that meets the UK’s rigorous safety standards, but we need even more people from all backgrounds and ages to sign up for studies to speed up this life-saving research.

“The more people that sign up, the quicker we can find a safe and effective vaccine, defeat this virus and protect millions of lives.”

The Blackpool Gazette is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

For unlimited access to Fylde coast news and information online, you can subscribe here: https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/subscriptions