Welsh healthcare staff to take part in next phase of Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trial

Credit: PA Images

Five-hundred Welsh healthcare staff are being recruited to take part in the next phase of the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trial.

The participants will all be from the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area.

The trial, being conducted by the Oxford Vaccine Group, is moving into its second of three phases and looks to find a safe vaccine that will provide immunity to Covid-19.

If the vaccine proves to be effective, there are plans in place to potentially manufacture 30 million doses of it for the UK public by September.

The researchers are aiming to recruit 10,000 participants in total from across the UK. Other participating sites include Southampton, St George’s, Imperial, Bristol and Oxford.

Public Health Wales will be leading the recruitment of 500 staff aged 18 and over, working within health and care settings at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Half of the volunteers will be between 18 and 55 years old and the other half will be 55 to 70 years old.

Participants will be staff sourced from hospitals, GP practices, pharmacy, physiotherapy, community care and other non-clinical professions within secondary care who are deemed at risk of exposure to coronavirus. Eligible participants will receive details from the health board about how to participate if they wish to.

This phase of the trial is not open to members of the public.

Phase two of the three-part trial will start on June 1. Credit: PA Images

Volunteers will be randomised to receive one or two doses of either the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine or a licensed vaccine that will be used as a ‘control’ for comparison.

ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees. It has been genetically modified so that it is impossible for it to replicate in humans and has been combined with genes that make proteins from the Covid-19 virus.

Dr Chris Williams, Principal Investigator for Public Health Wales, said: “This is an important study to test the effectiveness of one of the main candidate vaccines for Covid-19 in Wales.

"If successful, vaccination will provide a route out of this pandemic. We will be recruiting participants for screening and administration of vaccine, and monitoring outcomes and safety.”

This phase of the study is planned to start June 1 with follow-up planned up to one year later, when results will then be available.

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