The Tayside and Fife public will play a pivotal role in Scotland’s search for a coronavirus cure, it has emerged.
The University of Dundee and NHS Tayside will run final-stage trials for a vaccine that that could “return the world to some semblance of normality”.
The drug is being developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson.
Researchers are now appealing for hundreds of volunteers from across Courier Country to take part in the second Phase 3 clinical trial.
Around 400 members of the public will receive two injections of the trial vaccine within a two-month period.
It is the only research being carried out by Janssen in Scotland, with thousands more volunteers to be recruited at 16 other sites across the rest of the UK.
Britain could secure about 30 million doses of the vaccine if the trial is successful.
Professor Jacob George of Dundee University’s School of Medicine, Research and Development Director for NHS Tayside, said: “It is real testament to the R&D capability of the university and NHS Tayside to be selected to lead this trial in Scotland, on behalf of Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
“Here we have the expertise and dedication to determine the efficacy of a vaccine that has the potential to help return the world to some semblance of normality again, but we cannot do this without the help of the public.”
The Janssen vaccine is one of several potential cures being developed around the world. Last week, it was announced that a candidate being produced by Pfizer and BioNTeach could be more than 90% effective.
Prof George said: “While there has been some encouraging news this week about the development of a vaccine, it is widely acknowledged that we will need multiple vaccines if we are to bring this virus under control.
“This trial, therefore, is critically important and we are calling on people across Tayside and Fife to help us to potentially bring an end to this pandemic.”
Injections will be administered at the Clinical Research Centre in Ninewells Hospital, with follow-up visits at the same site or Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.
After their first jab, participants will be asked to keep a daily diary using a mobile phone app.
Researchers say they want to recruit a representative sample of the population, however women who are pregnant – or planning to become pregnant in the next 10 months – and people on long-term steroids will not be eligible.
However, anyone who is at increase risk of contracting Covid-19 is welcome to volunteer.
Dr Philip Short, Consultant Respiratory Physician at Ninewells said: “Our study gives the people of Tayside and Fife the opportunity to get involved in Covid-19 vaccine research.
“This is the first study using this potential vaccine to be trialled in the UK and focusses on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in tackling Covid-19. We would encourage anyone to get in touch with us about our vaccine study.”
It is the third vaccine trial to open in Scotland and is part of a portfolio of research studies to better understand the virus and drive progress in finding effective treatments, diagnostics and vaccines.
Dr Gregor Smith, Interim Chief Medical Officer for Scotland said: “Whilst recent developments on a potential vaccine are encouraging; we must make sure other clinical trials into Covid-19 vaccines and treatments continue.
“NHS Tayside, along with other sites across the UK, will be participating in the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine study using volunteers recruited through the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry.
“The ongoing commitment of research teams and participants, and the coordinated response to these studies via NHS Research Scotland is vital to drive further progress.”
Anyone interested in signing up for the local study can get in touch with the research team by emailing TAY.firstname.lastname@example.org
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