A new NHS service has been launched today (20 July), helping people across the UK sign up for information on the new COVID-19 vaccine trials.
The new NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry will help large numbers of people be recruited into the trials over the coming months, potentially leading to an effective vaccine being identified and made available to the UK public against coronavirus earlier. It has been developed in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), NHS Digital, and the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Governments as part of the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce project.
There are currently a number of vaccines being identified and safety-tested, but only large scale trials can give scientists the information needed about how effective they are. The NIHR working with the NHS right across the UK aims to recruit over half a million people onto the registry, which will allow people to be put in touch with the vaccine trials in the coming months.
Researchers are looking for people from all backgrounds, ages and parts of the UK, including both people with or without existing health conditions, to take part in vaccine studies, to make sure that any vaccines developed will work for everyone.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething said: “I’m pleased that Wales is a part of this UK-wide online registry, which will be a vital tool in the fight against COVID-19.
“People in Wales and across the UK will be asked to give their permission to be contacted to take part in cutting-edge COVID-19 trials to help in the search for a vaccine against the disease.
“As large scale vaccine trials get underway in the UK in the coming weeks and months this new system will enable researchers to quickly identify and match suitable and willing volunteers to appropriate trials.
“Those who choose to take part, could help researchers find a vaccine to protect us all.”
The service is available to anyone aged 18 or over, living in the UK. To register, people fill in some personal and contact details, and answer a series of basic health screening questions on an NHS.UK website form. The service is highly secure, with personal data and permissions held in a NHS system managed by NHS Digital, the national organisation responsible for IT in the health and social care system.
People registering their details through the service are not signing up to take part in a specific trial or study. Instead, researchers working on vaccine studies supported by the NIHR will be able to search for volunteers who have signed up to the service.
When a suitable volunteer has been identified, the researchers will send an email or text to anyone who matches the criteria for their study. This will provide more information about the study - and offer the user the opportunity to contact the research team and find out more, or express an interest to take part.
There is no obligation to take part in any study and people who sign up can change their mind and remove their contact details from the registry at any time.