The Covid-19 vaccine trial being developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with the University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has reached the next stage of development as volunteers aged over 55 are being recruited.
This development comes after successful results in a trial for both phases one and two of the vaccine were published in medical journal The Lancet last month. The trial, which evaluated 1,070 healthy adult volunteers aged between 18 and 55 years, found that the vaccine produced an effective immune response both through antibodies and T-cells. The initial trial used 412 people from Glasgow including staff from critical care units from the local area.
The key finding from the first two phases of the vaccine trial was that it did not show any signs of adverse side effects, allowing progression to the next stage of clinical trials. The next stage of the clinical trial is set to focus on those who are disproportionately affected by the virus.
In the official University press release Emma Thomson, professor of infectious diseases at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research said: "We know that older people in the population are particularly vulnerable, and therefore it is important that we carry out clinical trials to assess the safety and immune responses in this group.”
Recent data from the National Records of Scotland show that 77% of Covid-19 deaths in the country have been people aged over 75, which is why the phase three trials will focus on those aged over 55, with approximately 100 people aged 55 – 65 and a further 100 people over the age of 65 being recruited in Glasgow.
As well as those in the upper age bracket, Professor Andrew Smith, co-principal investigator, has stressed the importance of recruiting Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to volunteer for the trial.
The importance of these groups to the vaccine trial is demonstrated by data from the Office of National Statistics which showed when taking age into account, Black males were 4.2 times more likely to die from a Covid-19-related death than White males. The report also found that the risk was also greater for people of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, and Mixed ethnic groups.
Although this next stage of the vaccine trial will take 12 months, the University of Oxford, in partnership with AstraZeneca, has committed to supplying 2bn doses, with production already underway, to ensure the quickest release possible to the public once the vaccine has gained regulatory approval.
The trial has also been aided by an £84m grant from the UK government to support the development and manufacture this vaccine.
(For online version): If you are eligible and willing, or know someone who is, the link to sign up to the trial can be found here: https://www.covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/participate-glasgow.