Thousands of people across the East Midlands are putting themselves forward to take part in COVID-19 vaccine research trials driven by a desire to generate faster results and to help others in their community, according to new research revealed today.
A survey carried out in the region reveals that more than two in three (69%) people would consider putting themselves forward to take part in research to find a vaccine to slow the spread of the virus.
Amongst those who said that they would consider taking part in vaccine research, the most powerful motivations included supporting research to deliver faster answers (85%) and helping others in my community (59%). Three quarters of all respondents (76%) identified support to help with transport and childcare as something that would encourage them to volunteer to take part in research.
The findings, released by the Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic Health in Leicester, and the NIHR Clinical Research Network East Midlands, come from a survey conducted to understand more about attitudes towards vaccine research and how they differ across different communities.
Research studies are testing the effectiveness of a range of candidate vaccines to determine their safety and efficacy before those that are successful are rolled out to the general public. An essential part of trials is ensuring that they work effectively for people from different communities. The data and responses from this survey are being analysed to inform the creation of content to inform and encourage members of the public to take part in COVID-19 vaccine trials.
The findings show that attitudes towards research participation change over age. Six in ten (62%) of respondents aged 18-44 said that they would consider taking part in COVID-19 vaccine research, rising to three-quarters (77%) of people aged 45+. In addition, the survey found that people from White communities were more likely (76%) to say that they would consider participating in research to find a vaccine than those from Asian (53%) and Black (38%) communities.
Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director of the NIHR ARC East Midlands and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “We are proud to be delivering vital vaccine research in the East Midlands and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has signed up to support this important work. It is essential that vaccines work effectively for people from all backgrounds, and the results of this survey are helping us to better understand the different motivations and barriers that can affect participation in research. We will be using the findings to encourage all research sites within our region and beyond to ensure that research is as inclusive as possible.”
The survey results also indicate that people with previous experience of either receiving a vaccine or taking part in research are inclined to do so again. The proportion of people who said that they would consider taking part in COVID-19 vaccine research rose to 74% amongst those who received a flu vaccine last year, and 78% amongst those who have previously been involved in clinical trials.
Professor Khunti added: “It is extremely pleasing to see that people who have a history of either taking part in research or receiving a flu vaccine are more likely to consider joining the research effort to find a vaccine for COVID-19. This is testament to the positive experience of research that the overwhelming majority of participants have, and shows that people who receive vaccines are clear about the benefits of doing so and the impact that a vaccine for this virus could have.
“The news on vaccines in recent weeks has been incredibly uplifting, but there is more work to do. We need people to continue signing up to support COVID-19 vaccine research so that we can test a range of different vaccines and ensure that we find vaccines that can protect as many people as possible. I would encourage everyone across the East Midlands to step forward and be part of this enormous research effort.”
So far, over 28,000 people across the East Midlands have signed up to support COVID-19 vaccine research through the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry, with over 350,000 registrations from across the UK. The registry enables researchers to quickly contact people who have expressed their interest in taking part in vaccine trials to ensure that studies can be delivered quickly and effectively.
Research teams across the East Midlands have been involved in the delivery of three COVID-19 vaccine trials. To find out more about research and to sign up to support vaccine research, visit nhs.uk/researchcontact.