Published: 20 July 2020
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 as part of the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, in partnership with the NIHR, NHS Digital, and the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Governments. We are also collaborating with ZOE, the company behind the Covid-19 symptom study who have 3.5 million UK users of their app, to work together to enrol their volunteers onto vaccine trials.
John Nother, NIHR Chief Digital Officer, said: “This new online service will be a vital tool in the fight against this disease as large scale vaccine studies get underway within the UK.
“The new system will enable researchers to quickly identify and match suitable and willing volunteers to appropriate vaccine trials. In doing so, it will bring enormous benefits, not only to the NHS and health researchers - but to everyone living in the UK.
“Signing up and giving your permission to be contacted means you may be amongst the first to find out about opportunities to take part in trials and the latest, cutting-edge COVID-19 vaccines. There is no obligation to join in any study, if you are contacted. But by taking part, you could help researchers find a vaccine to protect us all more quickly - which in turn could help the NHS and save lives.”
There are a number of vaccines being identified and safety-tested at the moment, but only large scale trials can give scientists the information needed about how effective they are. The NIHR working with the NHS 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.
Jonathan Wolf, CEO of ZOE, of the COVID-19 Symptom Tracker app:
“The altruism of the UK public continues to amaze us. To have nearly four million people participating in citizen science against COVID, really does restore your faith in humanity. Joining forces with NIHR will enable the UK and our volunteers to be at the forefront of vaccine testing and ultimately look to end this pandemic sooner rather than later.”
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.