More people urged to join vaccine trials to help the fight against Covid-19

People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are particularly being asked to help out with vaccine trials. Credit: PA

More people are being urged to take part in Covid-19 vaccine trials as research continues to learn more about the safety and effectiveness of the jabs.

Black men and women are especially needed as research suggests they are twice as likely to become seriously ill with Covid-19 but, for a variety of reasons, they make up less than 10% of trial volunteers.

Of almost half a million volunteers who have signed up to the NHS Vaccine Registry, only 33,566 are Back, Asian and minority ethnic- that's 7.4%.

There are a variety of practical reasons why some people are not able to take part in vaccine studies. Credit: PA

Dr Rajeka Lazarus, Principal Investigator for Covid-19 vaccine studies in the West of England said, "There are a lot of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people working on the front line - and this is not just doctors and nurses, there are the people who make sure our hospitals are clean and make sure that patients get from A to B.

They're actually the people who studies have shown were most at risk of acquiring coronavirus infection and they're also the people who are most likely to suffer from severe infection.

So it's really important that we try to include as many people as we can in the vaccine studies and it's really important that vaccines are tested on the exact types of people who need the vaccines."

Dr Lazarus added that there are numerous reasons why people may not come forward to take part in trials.

Dr Lazarus said, "Some of it may be because of language barriers or misinformation that is circulating in general but I also think there are very practical reasons - that people need to be able to take time off work, people need to be able to get to the study site.

"These are factors that may disproportionately affect Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities".

Scientist at work at the Oxford vaccine manufacturing facility - which was approved after successful studies. Credit: PA

Dr Lazarus did give some encouraging information about the study she is working on. It is investigating if people can have separate doses from the three different types of Covid-19 vaccine on offer rather than a first and second jab from the same vaccine, as is happening currently.

If the study comes back with a successful result, it would speed up the vaccination process and make it much easier to organize.

Dr Lazarus said, "At the moment we are doing a vaccine study that is looking at combined Covid-19 vaccine schedules and I'm pleased to say that we have close to 25% of volunteers who are from the Black, Asian and minority ethnic community."

Dr Lazarus would like people from all backgrounds to sign up to the NHS Vaccine Research Registry to take part in the vaccine studies.

Dr Lazarus said, "I would like to encourage people from all backgrounds, but particularly from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, to consider taking part in vaccine trials.

"They can express their interest by signing up to the national registry and they will be contacted if there is a study in their area."

People from all backgrounds are being encouraged to join the NHS vaccine registry to help the fight against Covid-19. Credit: PA

You can sign up to be contacted about taking part in Covid-19 vaccine research here.

You must be 18 or over and live in the UK. You are not signing up to take part in a specific study, you are simply letting researchers know that you're happy for them to contact you if you are eligible.

You will have the opportunity to ask the researchers as many questions as you like before deciding whether or not to join a study.

Find out more information about the National Institute for Health Research vaccine studies here.