NHS worker becomes first person to take part in Covid vaccine trial

Claire Cole is the first person to take part in the stage three trials of the Janssen coronavirus vaccine. Credit: Manchester NHS Foundation Trust

A Manchester NHS worker has become the first person to be recruited for the final stage trial of a coronavirus vaccine.

Claire Cole, head of research delivery at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), is the first person in the world to be consented into phase three of the study to test the safety and effectiveness vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Janssen.

Ms Cole is one of 6,000 volunteers in the UK, and of 30,000 worldwide, being recruited for the study, taking place at 17 National Institute for Health Research sites in the UK - including in Manchester.

She said: "Although I have worked in health research for a number of years, I never cease to be amazed by the life-changing, and sometimes lifesaving, impact research can have.

"This has never been truer than during the Covid-19 pandemic, where I have seen first-hand how rapidly clinical research can be translated into treatments for our patients."

She added: I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of taking part in research and am honoured to be the first person in the world to be recruited to the study, and one of the first to receive the vaccine, as part of this vitally important coronavirus vaccine trial.

Claire Cole, Manchester NHS Foundation Trust

Researchers are urging more volunteers to come forward as other stage-three trials for potential vaccines are due to start in the next six months.

In particular, frontline workers, as well as volunteers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, are being encouraged to take part in clinical studies.

Tim Felton, clinical lead for all Covid-19 research at MFT and the principal investigator at MFT for the Janssen Phase 3 study, said: "Throughout all the research we have undertaken into Covid-19 at MFT, finding a safe and effective vaccine has been the top priority.

"Delivering the first dose as part of this vaccine study is another step forward in our fight against coronavirus.

"It is critical that we explore a range of vaccination options to give us the greatest chance of protecting as many people as possible.

"To ensure we know that the vaccines are safe and effective we need thousands of people to sign-up to the vaccines registry and take part in research."

The Janssen vaccine is the latest vaccine to enter phase three trials. Credit: PA

Around 25,000 people in the UK have so far participated in vaccine trials, and more than 310,000 have indicated their willingness to take part in clinical studies by signing up to the NHS vaccine research registry.

Kate Bingham, chairwoman of the Government's Vaccine Taskforce, said: "The recent news about progress on the search for a vaccine is enormously exciting for the whole world, but we must not take our focus off continuing the important research to work out which vaccines work best for different people to provide long-lasting, effective protection against Covid-19.

"Many vaccines are needed both here in the UK and globally, to ensure we can provide a safe and effective vaccine for the whole population.

"That's why the launch of this trial to establish the safety, effectiveness, and very importantly the durability, of the Janssen vaccines is so significant, and I would continue to encourage people to sign up to take part in vaccine trials."