Researchers are calling on more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and the over 65s to volunteer for clinical studies through the NHS Vaccine Registry.
Researchers are today (Tuesday 13 October) calling on more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and the over 65s to volunteer for clinical studies through the NHS Vaccine Registry to ensure potential candidates work for all.
Currently, ethnic minorities are under-represented in vaccine clinical trials taking place across the UK. Of the 270,000 people who have already signed up to the NHS Registry, only 11,000 volunteers are from Asian and British Asian backgrounds, and just 1,200 are Black, African, Caribbean or Black British. This is in contrast to 93% people from non-ethnic minority groups that have already signed up.
Large-scale clinical studies with a diverse pool of volunteers will help researchers better understand the effectiveness of each vaccine candidate. With 6 different COVID-19 vaccines currently progressing in the UK, including the University of Oxford/Astrazeneca and US biotech company Novavax candidates, thousands of people from different ages and backgrounds are urgently needed to help speed up their development and ensure they work effectively for the whole population.
This includes people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. According to Public Health England, people from Black backgrounds are statistically more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19, while death rates are higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups.
In addition, other vulnerable groups such as people with chronic diseases or over the age of 65 years are needed to take part in trials and also being urged to volunteer for clinical trials.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch, who is volunteering for COVID-19 vaccine trials being conducted by US biotechnology company Novavax at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, said:
The NHS Vaccine Registry was launched in July to create a database of people who can be contacted by the NHS to take part in clinical studies, to speed up the development of a safe and effective vaccine.
The Registry has been developed by the government, in partnership with the NIHR, NHS Digital, the Scottish and Welsh governments and the Northern Ireland Executive.
People who volunteer may be approached by researchers to discuss taking part in research studies in the UK.
Chair of the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham said:
Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Acute General Medicine and Principal Investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group said:
Dr Anna Goodman, a consultant in infectious diseases at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, who is leading the Novavax study at the Trust said:
Black, Asian and minority ethnic participation in vaccine research is explored in detail in the latest podcast in the series COVID-19: the search for a vaccine.
The UK public can support the national effort to speed up vaccine research and receive more information about volunteering for clinical studies by visiting the NHS website.