East London volunteers wanted for COVID vaccine trial

Whipps Cross Hospital staff will help run a COVID-19 vaccine trial based in east London starting in March next year.

Barts Health NHS Trust and Queen Mary University of London are calling for around 400 Londoners to take part in the trial at Bethnal Green Library.

The study, led by Professor Patrick Kennedy, will involve two doses of a vaccine created by The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Recruitment will end in March 2021 and the study will last for a year. Residents from all ethnicities, minorities and health groups are asked to take part.

Professor Patrick Kennedy said there were still “significant challenges” to overcome “before we have a number of safe and effective vaccines which are available globally”.

He said: “More vaccine trials are needed to better understand how effective they will be in different age groups, in people with chronic medical conditions and for how long the vaccines will provide immunity.

“I am delighted to be the principal investigator on this study and to be working with an outstanding team at Barts Health so we can address these important questions and contribute to the development of a safe and effective vaccine.”

Dr Vanessa Apea, a consultant in sexual health and HIV at Barts Health, added that she recognises the topic of vaccines “divides community”.

She said: “For many, and in particular, Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, the word vaccine generates a lot of fear, rooted in mistrust, which can understandably lead to reluctance in taking part in a trial.

“We know that these communities are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and this makes it even more important that any outcomes from research, including new treatments and ways to prevent the disease, work for all communities.

“Only by doing this can we truly take control of Covid-19, so we really need people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities to sign up to learn more and be part of research.”

In total, 30,000 people will receive the trial vaccine worldwide, including 6,000 from the UK.

Staff from all of the trust’s five hospitals will work with researchers, medical school students and volunteers to administer the doses.

To learn more about how to take part, visit the Barts Health NHS Trust website or email [email protected]

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter