Novavax Covid-19 vaccine researched at NNUH approved in the UK

Participants in one of the largest and fastest recruiting Covid-19 vaccine trials at NNUH are reassured today after the study vaccine was given authorisation for use in the UK.

The Novavax Covid-19 trial concluded in December 2021 and yesterday the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) approved the vaccine for use in the UK in the fight against Covid-19.

The study is the largest ever double blind, placebo-controlled vaccine trial to be undertaken in the UK, recruiting 15,203 participants from 33 research UK sites in just eight weeks, between September 2020 and November 2020.

More than 500 volunteers took part in the study at the Quadram Institute, part of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust (NNUH). Other NHS organisations also provided staff to help NNUH run the study, including the James Paget University Hospital and research nurses from the National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) Eastern and Clinical Commissioning Groups in the region.

Sara Thompson, Study Support Service Manager for the CRN Eastern was keen to take part in the trial. She said: “I was presented with an opportunity to contribute to a research study which could ultimately help change lives in the middle of a pandemic. I am pleased I was able to do my bit.

“I feel extremely grateful to have been involved as a participant in the Novavax trial.  The procedures that I went through were well organised and I was kept informed at each stage of my 12-month journey. The Norfolk and Norwich research team made me feel at ease throughout the whole process and I would happily volunteer to take part in clinical research again.”

Participants were given two jabs not knowing if it was the vaccine or a placebo – a harmless clear liquid – and monitored for a year.

NNUH was one of 16 hospitals across the NHS to be a research site. By January 2021 preliminary results were released showing that the vaccine was safe and 89.7% effective against Covid 19.

Over the last few months, the Novavax vaccine has also been licensed in Europe and many other countries globally.

Prof Jeremy Turner, NNUH Consultant Endocrinologist and Clinical Director for      CRN Eastern, said: “We are immensely grateful to the participants in the study who so generously gave up their time to be involved and who stuck with us through a long and at times arduous journey. We are also hugely grateful to another 100+ people who put themselves forward for inclusion in the study but who for a range of reasons were, unfortunately, not able to take part.

“Finally, we must not forget that this was a massive team effort with nursing, Research and Development teams, medical, admin and other colleagues from across the Trust, as well as other hospitals in the region, primary care and the National Institute for Health Research      Clinical Research Network supporting the massive effort to get this large study delivered to very tight timelines. Thank you and congratulations to everyone involved.”

Professor Turner added: “This trial was set up at an unprecedented pace and scale and the results have surpassed expectations. Clinical trials may never go back to how they were because there’s been such a mass participation exercise among the population and people have seen what it’s like to be involved in a clinical trial and the difference it has made. We need to harness that for other research and show the impact that taking part in research can have.”

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