Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has begun recruiting frontline health and social care workers to take part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.

The school has been selected as one of the UK sites for phase III of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial.

Led by Professor Andrew Pollard from the Oxford Vaccine Group, the trial will study the efficacy and safety of the candidate COVID-19 vaccine in healthy adults.

The team at LSTM, under the leadership of Professor Daniela Ferreira: “We were delighted to be asked by Professor Pollard to be a site for the study. From the vaccine candidates we have in therace against COVID, the Oxford vaccine is progressing at an amazing pace. If the trials demonstratethis vaccine is safe and effective there will be millions of doses already produced that could be quickly administered. The potential impact of this could be massive on two fronts, by saving millions of lives not only in the UK, but also globally, as well as the economic benefits of allowing society toget back to normal without the risk of future COVID-19 peaks.”

The team will recruit 500 frontline staff. Credit: PA

Building on the group’s success in recruiting volunteers to numerous studies mostly focused on respiratory infection predominately pneumonia and vaccines, communications have been sent out to all of the NHS Trusts within Merseyside as well as to CCGs, GPs and care homes asking forvolunteers. The team will recruit 500 frontline staff, screening and vaccinating them, either with the COVID-19 candidate or with a meningitis vaccine used as a control in this randomised blind study.

One of the study leads in Liverpool is Dr Andrea Collins, a Senior Clinical Lecturer at LSTM and Honorary Consultant in Respiratory Infection at LUHFT. She said: “This is an incredibly important study to be involved in and we are delighted to be able to utilise the amazing respiratory infectionexpertise that we have within our team at LSTM, and across Liverpool and Merseyside to make a vital contribution from the Northwest to this UK-wide phase of this pivotal clinical trial.”

Potential candidates will go through a screening process to ensure, among other things that they do not fall into a ‘vulnerable group’, and they will be tested to ensure they have not previously been infected with COVID-19.

If suitable, they will be vaccinated the next week, although they will not know if they have been vaccinated with the COVID-19 candidate or the meningitis vaccine.

With such high numbers of potential participants and a limited time frame, volunteers to help with the logistics of the trial are essential.