This year has seen our entire world turned upside down, as the COVID-19 pandemic has month-by-month disrupted local businesses, hospitality and live events and our general way of life.
Recent weeks have seen some more positive news filter through, however, as various scientific break-throughs have given us all some hope for news of a viable vaccine to come sooner rather than later.
A number of promising trials to find an effective vaccine for coronavirus are taking place now in Greater Manchester, with more due to get under way this winter.
Residents from all over Manchester have participated, all with their own personal reasons for getting involved.
72-year-old Andrew, from Stockport, joined the registry and was contacted to be part of a vaccine trial being carried out in Cheadle Hulme.
He was very happy to get involved in the study – the first COVID-19 vaccine trial to be undertaken in Greater Manchester.
“With something like COVID-19, you can feel so hopeless and that there’s nothing much you can do about it, so I felt that committing to the research was just a small act that I could make,” he said.
“There is a very clear system of arriving safely, being booked in and being given very clear information by the lead researcher of the study; followed by an assessment with a doctor, various tests with the nurse and finally an injection and information to take home.
“I had a lot of information beforehand and that same information, and more, was given again today. It was very clear what was required and what was involved.”
Residents across the whole of Greater Manchester are being encouraged to get involved, and it takes only five minutes to sign-up by providing your contact details and answering basic health screening questions.
By doing so, you will join a database of volunteers who agree to be contacted by NHS researchers when a suitable trial is happening near you.
Volunteers are still needed for these trials and anyone over the age of 18 can register an interest by signing up to the NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry.
Sarah, 43, of Ashton-under-Lyne, is taking part in the same trial after she signed up to the registry.
“I have a young family and obviously the current situation has really changed the way that we live, so I am really keen to do anything that will help everyone out of this situation,” she said.
“When I arrived, the lead researcher on the trial sat everyone down and explained the process and talked about how the vaccine trials work.
“There was an opportunity to ask questions and it was a really good process.
“We were in a group of seven [for the initial introductory session] and it was a really open opportunity to ask anything we were concerned about. All the way through, when I met the doctor and the nurse at the next stages, that was the same.
“It’s been a really pleasant experience despite there being needles involved. I did worry a little bit, but it’s been fine.”
Adam, 64, of Heaton Mersey, also signed up to the registry and decided to get involved in the trial after being contacted by the research team.
“I’ve not been involved in research before, but I was interested in this because it [a vaccine for COVID-19] is on everyone’s lips,” he said.
“I would encourage others to register. I think it’s vital that people get involved in research for the benefit of others.”
The NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry has been developed as part of the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), NHS Digital and the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Governments.
Signing up does not commit you to being part of a trial – you can say ‘no’ at any stage and request that your details be removed from the COVID-19 vaccine research registry.
There have been encouraging interim results from other COVID-19 vaccine trials and, although these are significant steps forward, the vaccines have not yet been approved for use in the UK and it is vitally important that clinical trials into a number of other COVID-19 vaccines continue.
Different vaccines work in different ways and NHS researchers still need to collect important information about which vaccines work best, which are best for different groups of people, and exactly how effective they are.
Want to volunteer? Sign-up to the vaccine registry below.