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First participant in Leicester’s COVID-19 vaccine trial


The first person in Leicester has joined a COVID-19 vaccine trial sponsored by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and run by staff through the new National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC) at Leicester General Hospital.

Pratik Choudhary joined the vaccine trial, which was announced nationally on Monday 16 November, less than two weeks after the official launch of the PRC Leicester. Up to 400 people are expected to enrol at Leicester as part of 6,000 across the UK.

The phase 3 vaccine trial is the third potential vaccine to enter clinical trials in the UK. It is testing the safety and effectiveness of a two-dose regimen of a new COVID-19 vaccine which uses a weakened common cold virus and a part of the COVID-19 virus to stimulate the immune system to later fight a real COVID-19 infection. 

Pratik is a Professor in type 1 diabetes and technology at the University of Leicester and works at the Leicester Diabetes Centre at Leicester General Hospital. He was glad to be able to volunteer locally to take part in this COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Pratik explains: “We know that this virus disproportionately affects people from minority ethnic groups and it is really important that we are represented in these studies. Like many others from ethnic backgrounds, I live in a multigenerational family and I am taking part in this trial, so that this research generates data that protects not just myself but my 70 year old mum as well as.”

Adrian Palfreeman, consultant in infectious disease at Leicester’s Hospitals and Principal Investigator for the trial, said: “By investigating multiple candidate vaccines we will ensure that we have a range of options available that are most suited to different people.

“Volunteers like Pratik are vital to evaluating whether these vaccines are effective. We will continue to need people from all backgrounds, especially those who are vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 such as those from minority ethnic backgrounds, those over 65 and frontline workers, to volunteer.

“We would like to reassure people that when an approved vaccine is available, participants in vaccine trials like ours will not be disadvantaged. If you are invited to receive an approved vaccine and have taken part in this trial, our team will be able to provide advice on how to proceed.”

Professor Melanie Davies, Clinical Director of NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre, Leicester, says: “We are thrilled to be running a COVID-19 vaccine trial through our new Patient Recruitment Centre. It is important that our local community has easy access to a vaccine trial if they wish to take part. We have been overwhelmed with the response with over 90 local people contacting us and offering to volunteer so far. It is clear that an effective vaccine is the best way for life to return to normal and protect the most vulnerable.”

To find out more about this vaccine trial and to see if you can take part, please visit our website: https://local.nihr.ac.uk/prc/leicester/patients/get-involved.htm 

Further information about for people interested in vaccine studies in light of news about other promising COVID-19 vaccines, please visit: https://bepartofresearch.nihr.ac.uk/Vaccine-studies/Latest-vaccine-news/index 


Rosalind Moore, communications and engagement manager

Call 07929 862697 or email Rosalind.Moore@uhl-tr.nhs.uk