THE first phase three study in the world is due to start in the North-East.
Volunteers from the region are taking park in the study to test the new Novavax Covid-19 vaccine.
The national trial is being run regionally from University Hospital of Hartlepool and will be the second Covid-19 vaccine study to be delivered within the region.
It is being led regionally by the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance, representing North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
If successful, 60 million doses of the vaccine will be manufactured in Billingham.
Volunteers are invited to join the study, which has seen 250,000 people sign up across the UK through the NHS Vaccines Registry.
The study will test the safety and effectiveness of a “promising” new vaccine, developed by US biotechnology company Novavax, across a broad spectrum of people, including those from a variety age groups and backgrounds within the region.
Phase three studies involve many thousands of people, giving researchers insights into the effects of a vaccine on a much larger population than phase one and two studies.
Professor Caroline Wroe, Clinical Director, NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, said: “It's fantastic news that people in our region will have the opportunity to take part in these trials and help the NHS find the best vaccine to protect us against COVID-19.
“It’s a tribute to the quality of health sciences in this region that ground-breaking vaccines are being both produced and studied here.”
Justin Carter, research and development director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are proud that the three acute hospital trusts in our region are coming together to provide our patients with the chance to take part in vital Covid vaccine research, which is the next step in our fight against this disease.”
Dr David Chadwick, infectious diseases consultant and study lead at South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be able to run this trial in the region and contribute to the wider effort to find a safe and effective Covid vaccine”.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It is absolutely fantastic news that the world’s only Phase 3 study of a coronavirus vaccination will begin in October at Hartlepool hospital. Once again Teesside is leading the way and putting itself on the world stage for its work in tackling the coronavirus.
“Hospital trusts from across our region are coming together to play a crucial role in the next step in our fight against this virus, and we should be proud that it is Teesside medical professionals and experts that are at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to get life back to normal and protect our families and loved ones.
“If this study proves successful, then 60 million doses of the vaccine will be manufactured at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’s facilities in Billingham.
"They are doing fantastic work in our hugely important bioscience sector and there’s no bigger project across the world right now than creating and manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine, so it was brilliant to be able to work with them and Government to get this over the line last month.
“This will be the only place in the whole country where this vaccine will be manufactured, and it will be done in Teesside. It is a fantastic coup for our area and shows once again the potential and the talent we have in the region.”