Liverpool plays pivotal role in breakthrough on global COVID-19 vaccine

Liverpool has played a major role in research into the vaccine that was announced last week as being highly effective against COVID-19.

Collaborative system working by our partners in the city, in addition to an enthusiastic response from local volunteers to take part in the trial, was pivotal to success so far.

The University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, revealed interim trial data from its Phase III Oxford Vaccine trial which showed its candidate vaccine is effective at preventing COVID-19 and offers a high level of protection.

The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) was one of the research trial sites, in conjunction with LUHFT, testing the vaccine. More than 800 volunteers took part locally in the research.

Clinical trials for the vaccine also took part in other parts of the UK, Brazil and South Africa, with more than 24,000 people involved.

It has been found to be 90% effective if administered at a half dose and then a full dose.

These preliminary data indicate that the vaccine is 70.4% effective, with tests on two different dose regimens showing that the vaccine was 90% effective if administered at a half dose and then at a full dose, or 62% effective if administered in two full doses.

Crucially, the vaccine can be easily administered in existing healthcare systems, stored at “fridge temperature” and distributed using existing logistics.

Further trials are being conducted in the United States, Kenya, Japan and India and the trial team expect to have under 60,000 participants by the end of the year.

The part that Liverpool has played in the vaccine reaching this point has been crucial and is an example of how collaboration is key in defeating COVID-19.

As the pandemic struck, Liverpool Health Partners (LHP) acted rapidly and at scale as a system to streamline processes across the research pipeline.

To achieve this a temporary command and collaboration structure was established to deliver rapid research, STrategic One Liverpool Partnership for COVID (Liverpool STOP COVID).

Building on the existing infrastructure of LHP SPARK (Single Point of Access for Research and Knowledge), the response structure aligned existing national and regional COVID command structures and Trust level controls.

Dr Seema Chauhan, Head of LHP SPARK, said: “We would like to congratulate the team at LSTM and the volunteers who took part in the Liverpool part of the trial and made it such a success.

“The results so far and the speed at which they have been achieved illustrate what can be achieved when a system works together with the smart use of existing infrastructures. Liverpool STOP COVID allowed for significant engagement with participants, including hard to reach communities to be the top recruiting site in the UK for the Oxford Vaccine Trial”.

“A shared LHP Taskforce allowed for the delivery and follow-up of over 3000 clinical appointments to date”.

“We at LHP SPARK are proud that we have supported our partners, the NIHR NWC Vaccine Alliance Liverpool Central Hub, and everyone else involved in the research so far and would like to stress our ongoing commitment to the follow up of this study over the next 18 months.”

LSTM’s Professor Daniela Ferreira said: “Firstly I would like to say a huge thank you to the whole team involved in making the Liverpool phase of this trial a success, including our volunteers, ambassadors and participants they are without a doubt a large part of its success. We were happy to be involved in this trial because we knew that this vaccine would be a truly global one, with Oxford and their industrial partners making a commitment to fair access to the vaccine and it being available to low and middle-income countries at cost price, this is central to LSTM’s mission working as we do within some of the world’s poorest populations.”