Ensuring any potential coronavirus vaccine is suitable and effective for all across the UK, studies require a large, diverse group of volunteers – leading to calls for more people from ethnic minority backgrounds to sign up for ongoing coronavirus trials.
So far, more than 270,000 people have been recruited to take part in coronavirus vaccine trials around the UK.
However, just 7% of these belong to ethnic minorities – a collection of groups who are at a greater risk of complications should they develop Covid-19.
Similarly, researchers have also put out calls to recruit more over-65s to volunteer for vaccine trials too, helping to ensure any potential vaccine developed is suitable for elderly people; another vulnerable group.
Should one become available, their heightened risk means these groups would be among the first to be offered a vaccine.
In total, researchers are targeting the recruitment of 500,000 volunteers for vaccine trials and studies, including the promising Oxford trial which recently resumed after a short, mandatory hiatus to investigate when a patient developed a health complication.
At present, the UK has secured access to six potential vaccines, which can be divided into four distinct categories:
- Adenoviral vaccines
- mRNA vaccines
- Inactivated whole virus vaccines
- Protein adjuvant vaccines
People interested in taking part in vaccine clinical trials can sign up here.
Divya Chadha Manek, Head of Business Development for the NIHR Clinical Research Network and Clinical Trials Workstream Lead at UK Vaccines Taskforce said: “NIHR-supported research has clearly demonstrated evidence that people from Black and Asian ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.
"It is imperative that more people from Black, Asian and different groups sign up to the NHS Registry as soon as possible, so we can ensure Covid-19 vaccines are effective for as many people as possible.
"We need people from all our communities to play their part by taking part in Covid-19 vaccine research. Essentially, we need to help ourselves by addressing the challenge of the pandemic through research."
Chair of the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, added: “The only way to check how well a coronavirus vaccine works is to carry out large-scale clinical trials involving thousands of people.
"Researchers need data from different communities and different people to improve understanding of the vaccines. The only way to get this is through large clinical trials.
“We want to ensure the data we get actually represents the different people from different backgrounds in the UK. This includes people who are over-65, frontline healthcare workers, or have existing health conditions, and we need people from the communities which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic from black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.”