Western Trust team take part in study into new Novavax vaccine

Staff from the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) have joined volunteers from across Northern Ireland to take part in a milestone study into the new Novavax Covid-19 vaccine.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 11:03 am
VACCINES... The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in Northern Ireland is said to be progressing well.

Three members of the Western Trust Research Team - research nurses Dawn Small, Caitriona Lavery and Donal Concannon - all played an important role in the project.

The study was a large UK-wide research initiative which aimed to assess the effectiveness of the Novavax vaccine against Covid-19.

It involved more than 15,000 participants.

After successful trials, the interim study results reported on January 28 last, showed that the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 89.3% against the acquisition of Covid-19 and the development of severe Covid-19 infections.

Based in the Clinical Research Facility at Belfast City Hospital, the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trials recruited 500 participants from right across Northern Ireland.

The study included research staff from a number of organisations, including NI Clinical Research Network, NI Clinical Research Facility, NI Clinical Trials Unit, General Practitioners, Queen’s University and Ulster University.

They all worked together as a large cohesive team under the stewardship of Professor Danny McAuley, Queen’s University, Belfast, who was the NI Principal Investigator in the trial.

Dr Maurice O’Kane, Director of the NI Clinical Research Network and Clinical Research Network Covid-19 vaccine research lead, who contributed to setting up the Novavax study in Northern Ireland, said: “This is an important result and Novavax will be another critical tool in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The results are currently being assessed by regulators and it is anticipated that this vaccine will be licensed for general use in the UK in due course.”

Dr O’Kane added: “As well as delivering the Novavax Study, the Clinical Research Network team in the Western Trust, working with respiratory and critical care colleagues, has been very active in delivering a number of Covid-19 research studies which have been looking at the effectiveness of various drugs in treating Covid patients.

“This type of research is extremely important, it leads directly to improvements in patient care and saves lives.”

Speaking about both her own and her colleagues’ roles within it, Research Nurse Dawn Small explained: “Our role as Clinical Research Nurses was to discuss with the participants all aspects of the study, answer their queries and to ensure they were fully supported and informed during their visits.

“This was undertaken by two different teams of nurses working together.

“One team focused on carrying out study assessments, such as blood samples and tests, observing vital signs and observing the participants post vaccination.

“The second team was responsible for the “randomisation” of subjects and for preparing and administering the Novavax vaccination.

“I can speak on behalf of my colleagues when I say that we were so glad to be able to participate in the study as it is such a rewarding time to be involved in research,” she added.