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Next phase of Covid-19 vaccine trial to open for recruitment

Published: 21 May 2020

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Following successful recruitment to the Phase I/II Covid-19 vaccine trial, a Phase II/III trial is opening for recruitment this weekend. This trial is the next step in developing a vaccine to combat Covid-19.

Designed and organised by the University of Oxford, the trial is being managed by researchers and clinicians at St George’s, University of London and St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as one of many sites across the country.

Led by Professor Paul Heath and Dr Catherine Cosgrove, the next phase of the trial will be assessing whether the new vaccine is effective in preventing Covid-19. Eligible volunteers will be booked in for a screening visit where a blood test is taken to see if they have previously been exposed to the virus. Those that have not will then be eligible for vaccination.

The participants will then be followed up by clinicians at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after vaccination, and will also be seen if they report any symptoms of possible Covid-19.

This time round, the researchers will also be recruiting participants from older age groups (aged 56-69 and 70 and over). For these groups, researchers are assessing the immune response to the vaccine in people of different ages, to find out if there is variation in how well the immune system responds in older people.

As with the previous phase of the study, half the participants will receive the new coronavirus vaccine, while the other half will receive a control vaccine designed to prevent meningococcal disease.  

The team hope to see a significant reduction of coronavirus cases in those receiving the new vaccine compared to the control vaccine.

Professor Paul Heath said: “This next phase of the trial will bring us closer to understanding both the safety of the vaccine and whether it is able to prevent coronavirus. Depending on the transmission rate of the virus in the UK, it will be several months before we have enough data to see if the vaccine works or not.

“We’re working as quickly and safely as possible in order to find out more and hopefully make a vaccine available.”

This trial forms part of a portfolio of research at St George’s to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The University has recently launched a Coronavirus Action Fund to raise money for vital research into the pandemic and is actively seeking support for a broad research programme involving all parts of the University. 

Further details on how to volunteer for the trial can be found at: https://covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/participate-trial.

Prospective participants should select ‘London Sites’ and register to participate at St George's University Hospital.

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