A Fylde Coast GP practice has signed up the UK’s first participant in a drug trial that could lead to a vaccine for COVID-19.
Layton Medical Centre – in partnership with the Patient Recruitment Centre at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – has been chosen to trial the Novavax vaccine and will be one of only 18 sites in the UK.
And this week, the first person in the UK to be fully accepted into the trial took part in their initial session at the practice in Kingscote Drive, Blackpool.
More than 2,500 people have expressed an interest in taking part in the study in Blackpool. Anyone aged between 18 and 84 can register to take part in the trial, which is open to anyone, not just those registered with the practice.
Dr Rebecca Clark, GP partner at the practice, said: “We are really excited to have been chosen to run this study which could have a significant impact in the worldwide effort to vaccinate against COVID-19.
“We are looking for people to volunteer to take part in this study, which will require at least six visits to either the practice or Blackpool Victoria Hospital over the course of the next 12 months but places are filling up fast.”
Everyone taking part in the trial will receive an initial injection of the vaccine or a placebo injection, followed by a booster injection three weeks later. Antibodies will be taken a further three weeks after that, with check-ups taking place after three, six and 12 months.
Dr Clark said: “Every time they get a cough or a cold during the trial they would need to come in to be seen and if volunteers develop COVID-19 symptoms then swabs would be taken and they would be tested immediately.”
Dr Angela Parker, manager of the Patient Recruitment Centre at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This has been a fantastic collaboration between the Research Team at Layton Medical Centre and the team at the Patient Recruitment Centre at the hospital.
“It takes a huge amount of effort to conduct a study of this size and at this pace and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved so far. It is heartening to see how many volunteers across the Fylde Coast have indicated their interest in taking part.”
Dr Clark said she hoped the high-profile nature of this piece of research would encourage more GP practices to consider research in the future.
She said: “We have been carrying out clinical research at Layton Medical Centre for 30 years and this means some of our patients have access to new treatments years before they are widely available to everyone.
“I would love to think more of my GP colleagues across the Fylde Coast will see the immense value there is in carrying out research and clinical studies and help turn this area into a true hotbed of medicines innovation.”
The practice and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals are part of the National Institute for Health Research Vaccine Alliance North West Coast, which is a collaboration of organisations coming together to deliver vaccine research.
Anyone wishing to take part in the study should email firstname.lastname@example.org