NHS organisations across Dorset are playing their part in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine, with the opening of a key vaccine trial in Bournemouth.

The trial, taking place in Dorset’s new research hub at Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH), sees the people of Dorset come together with their NHS to find a way out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over 500 Dorset residents will take part, helping confirm the safety and effectiveness of a promising new vaccine developed by US biotechnology company Novavax.

They will join 10,000 volunteers across the UK in helping researchers to understand how well the vaccine protects against coronavirus infection across a wide range of people.

The researchers leading trials are particularly keen to make sure the vaccine protects those most at risk of severe COVID-19, calling on those over 65, from a Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) background and people with pre-existing health conditions to get involved.

Dr Patrick Moore, a Dorset GP and the local investigator of the study, said:

“This important research will help us to find a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, to protect us all more quickly and end the pandemic sooner.

“To help us make sure that any vaccine developed will work for everyone, we need people aged 18-84 from all backgrounds, to take part in the study.

“In Dorset, we are particularly looking for people in the most at risk COVID-19 groups. Those with stable, pre-existing health conditions, those over 65 years old and those from Black or Asian ethnic backgrounds.

“Our county is playing a key part in the global search for a COVID-19 vaccine, and we’d like to thank the people of Dorset for coming together with the NHS to find a way out of this pandemic.

“This vaccine is one of six in national trials all aimed at getting an effective vaccine, faster. We in the NHS are calling on those interested in taking part in this study, or future studies, to sign up via the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry, created to help the people across the country take part in this search over the coming months.”

The Novavax vaccine is produced using the same methods as annual flu jabs, and earlier studies have established its safety and its ability to stimulate immune defences in healthy adults.

Those taking part in the study will either receive the Novavax vaccine or a placebo (a saline injection), so that the immune response caused by the vaccine can be confirmed. The vaccine being tested cannot give volunteers the virus and volunteers will not be exposed to deliberate infection.

After immunisation, volunteers will be regularly monitored over the next 12 months to understand the longevity of the immune response and the degree of protection given.

The vaccine is one of many candidates being trialled across the NHS nationally, and in the south region, in the next few months.

Those wanting to be contacted about this study, and future studies, can sign up to the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry at www.nhs.uk/researchcontact.