Coronavirus: What was Bradford's role in the new Novavax vaccine?

A fourth Covid-19 vaccine could be approved for use in the UK within weeks as late-stage trials suggested it was 89% effective in preventing coronavirus.

The UK has secured 60 million doses of the Novavax jab and Bradford played a key role in the trial, with 726 volunteers taking part at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Volunteers were given two doses of the vaccine; one on their first day and a second on day 21. They will continue to be monitored for at total of 12 months, but the vaccine could be approved in weeks.

Consultant Respiratory Physician Professor Dinesh Saralaya, who led the trial said: “This is tremendous news. It’s fantastic! The more vaccines we have the better. Vaccines are the only way out of this pandemic and the way for us to get back to normal life."

Professor Dinesh Saralaya Credit: Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

He was also instrumental in encouraging volunteers from different backgrounds to be part of the trial, with 7 per cent from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

No animal products in vaccine

Prof Saralaya said the Novovax vaccine contained no animal products and, like the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, was easy to transport.

“The vaccine is halal and kosher in that it contains no animal products. Novovax also has a very easy cold chain, like the Oxford vaccine, so it will be one of the vaccines which is taken door to door.”

Bradford West Labour MP Naz Shah was among those who took part in the trial, which included around 720 people from Bradford, some seven per cent of whom hailed from a BAME background.

The latest data shows the vaccine is also believed to offer protection against the new UK and South African variants.

The vaccine will now be assessed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed, as he thanked volunteers who made the results possible. In total, 15,000 people took part aged between 18-84, of which 27% were older than 65, Novavax said.

The manufacturing plant in Stockton-on-Tees should be up and running by March or April, with the company hoping to get approval for the vaccine from the MHRA around the same time.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS stands ready to roll out the vaccine if it is approved, which he said would provide a "significant boost to our vaccination programme and another weapon in our arsenal to beat this awful virus".

The chairman of the Government's Vaccine Taskforce, Clive Dix, said the results were "spectacular", adding: "The efficacy shown against the emerging variants is also extremely encouraging.

"This is an incredible achievement that will ensure we can protect individuals in the UK and the rest of the world from this virus."

The jab has shown around 60% effectiveness against the South African variant, which has been worrying scientists due to concerns vaccines may not work against it, but it offered 86% protection against the new UK strain.

Two vaccines have already been rolled out in the UK - from Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca - while a third from Moderna has been approved for use.

The Novavax jab would be delivered in the second half of 2021 if it receives MHRA approval.