800 South Tyneside volunteers in COVID vaccine studies

Nearly 800 people in South Tyneside have been thanked for volunteering to take part in coronavirus vaccine studies
A caronavirus vaccineA caronavirus vaccine
A caronavirus vaccine

As the national vaccination programme gets underway health chiefs have paid tribute to those who stepped up to help scientists develop the life-saving jabs.

NHS Digital data shows 790 people from South Tyneside had volunteered to take part in coronavirus vaccine studies as of Thursday January 7.

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Of those, the largest proportion (41%) were aged between 40 and 59, while 32% were aged 18 to 39.

Across the North East, 16,200 people had signed up – part of a 379,000-strong national army of volunteers.

People can still put themselves forward to potentially take part in clinical trials.

Two vaccines have so far been approved in the UK – the Pfizer vaccine, which was rolled out in December, and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which came into use this week.

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Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said: "There has been a considerable collective effort that has brought us to this point.

"The dedication and hard work of scientists, regulators, those who funded the researchand the willingness and selflessness of so many volunteers who took part in the vaccine trials were essential in delivering this safe and effective vaccine.

"They deserve our recognition and thanks.”

Researchers need people to take part in studies to find out which potential vaccine is most effective, and those involved are required to visit a hospital or research site every few months.

Studies normally involve having injections, blood tests, answering questions and keeping a diary of any symptoms between hospital visits.