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A new NHS service has been launched today (20 July) to enable people across the UK to sign up for information on COVID-19 vaccine trials.
The NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry, developed in partnership with NHS Digital, will help large numbers of people to be recruited into trials over the coming months - potentially meaning an effective vaccine for coronavirus can be found and made available.
The service was commissioned as part of the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce in conjunction with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Governments
Tom Denwood, NHS Digital Executive Director for Data, Insights and Statistics, explains: “Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways of keeping people healthy and have the potential to help us beat COVID-19.
“There is some incredible vaccine development underway, as highlighted in recent media reports. However, in order to develop a vaccine that works for different groups of people, researchers of the vaccine studies need to run multiple simultaneous studies – and that means finding a large number of volunteers who would like to take part in them.
“This new service should make a real difference in expanding the number of volunteers, and we are proud to be the technology delivery partner, supporting the collective national effort.”
John Nother, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Chief Digital Officer, adds: “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.”
A number of possible vaccines have already been identified and are being safely tested, but but only large scale trials can give scientists the information and assurances needed for effective use at scale.
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. This will ensure that any vaccines developed will work for everyone.
The service is available to anyone aged 18 or over, living in the UK.
Signing up is an individual choice and you can change your mind about participating at any time.
You are providing permission (consent) for researchers to contact you about taking part in NIHR approved UK coronavirus vaccine studies. You are not signing up to take part in those studies.
Registering involves email verification and then providing your name, date of birth, postcode, sex registered at birth, gender and ethnic grouping. There are also some questions around your health that will help to identify if you are suitable for particular studies. You will be sent a confirmation email for record.
The purpose of asking these questions is to ensure the researchers get the right mix of different people taking part in the vaccine studies, and to make sure that any vaccines developed will work for everyone.
The service explains why we are asking these questions as you go through the sign-up process and there is a Privacy Notice that explains in more detail how NHS Digital will use the information you provide.
NHS Digital would also like to keep in touch with those who sign up to provide updates on the progress and outcomes from the vaccine studies. We hope to develop further permission to contact services for other research and studies and would like to tell those who sign up about these.
You can therefore also provide NHS Digital with permission to contact you for these purposes. This is a separate and completely optional permission.
We will only provide your details to researchers of NIHR-approved UK coronavirus vaccine studies.
The vaccine research registry team is discussing with ZOE, the company behind the COVID-19 Symptom Study, about how their volunteers can register to be contacted about vaccine research. ZOE volunteers are also being encouraged to sign up on the NHS system.
To find out more visit www.nhs.uk/researchcontact. For general information about taking part in research, including other opportunities to support the fight against COVID-19, go to www.bepartofresearch.uk