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Thousands sought for Dundee coronavirus vaccine health study

The coronavirus vaccination programme continues.
The coronavirus vaccination programme continues.

Thousands of volunteers are being sought for a new study to assess the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.

Researchers at Dundee University are looking for people who have had a Covid-19 vaccine to come forward so their experiences can be monitored.

It is hoped the VAC4COVID study will help scientists and doctors understand post-vaccine health and understand any rare and unexpected side effects.

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Members of the university’s Medicines Monitoring Unit (MEMO) have stressed that all vaccines have already met rigorous safety standards but, as with all new medicines, ongoing research is needed.

James Shaw, 82, from Dundee was the first i Scotland to receive the Astrazeneca vaccine.

MEMO Research will work closely with vaccine regulators to inform them of any findings.

Project leader Professor Tom MacDonald said: “New medical conditions, like heart problems and neurological diagnoses, occur all the time, whether people are vaccinated or not.

“The difficulty for medicines regulators is to know how many new conditions are related to vaccination and how many would have happened anyway. For this reason, we want to be able to track medical events both before and after vaccination, as well as in unvaccinated people.

“Another challenge is determining exactly what medical condition a person is reporting.

“People may describe the same symptoms in different ways. Many of the most feared possible side-effects are related to the neurological or immune systems, but the symptoms reported by patients may not be easily linked to a diagnosis.

“We will contact participants’ doctors and review their medical notes if they report concerning symptoms or diagnoses. This will allow us to confirm possible side-effects and maintain the quality of the study.”

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Members of the public can sign up at the VAC4COVID study website and will be asked to provide information about their health before and after vaccination.

People yet to receive a coronavirus vaccine, or who do not plan to have one, are also invited to take part, to enable researchers to gauge whether medical conditions are coincidental or a result of the vaccination.

Fay Mackay receiving a vaccine in Perth.

Professor Isla Mackenzie, deputy director of MEMO Research, said: “Asking people to report their own medical events in our previous study of swine flu-vaccination worked very well and most participants reported no problems with their health.

“This information, provided by both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, helped immensely with the assessment of swine flu vaccine safety.

“Studies like VAC4COVID are crucial to understanding how to maximise safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination programmes. Better understanding of these vaccines will support greater public confidence in vaccination.”

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