A leading Bradford doctor has encouraged residents from the district to volunteer for a national NHS register, which will test possible COVID-19 vaccines.

Residents who are more affected by COVID-19 within the Bradford district are being asked to volunteer for the trials. This includes over 65s, people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and frontline health and care workers.

The NHS aims to have as many people as possible signed up to the register by October to support vaccine studies across the UK. Over 100,000 volunteers have already registered to take part in the trial studies.

Consultant Respiratory Physician at Bradford Teaching Hospitals and Director of Bradford’s National Institute for Health Research Patient Recruitment Centre, Dr Dinesh Saralaya, explained the importance of BAME volunteers taking part in the trial, which could accelerate the process of finding a vaccine for COVID-19.

Dr Saralaya said: “Of the 112k people who have already signed up to the government’s website for volunteers to test the 8-10 COVID trial studies – that will take place in the UK between Sept 2020 and January 2021 within the NHS – a mere 6% are from BAME and only a handful are from Bradford.

“If we are to save lives, it’s imperative that our research includes as diverse a cross-section of our community as possible because the trials must be representative of the population that we serve.

”We know that COVID-19 affects those from a BAME community more seriously and if we are to find a vaccine that works, it must be tested on that population so that we know it creates the right antibodies to fight the disease.”

A more diverse pool of participants will help researchers to gain a more in-depth understanding of the effects of each vaccine. More participants will lead to a quicker, workable vaccine being found.

Marium Zumeer, 18, from West Bowling, Bradford, was hospitalised after contracting COVID-19. Whilst recovering in Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Ward 31, Marium was offered a chance to take part in the clinical trials.

A range of potential treatments were trialled at the Royal Infirmary, including drug dexamethasone, one of the first treatments found to be effective whilst treating COVID-19 patients.

Marium believes taking part in the trial was key to her recovery from the virus. She said: “I will always be grateful for being encouraged to sign up. I remember my dad at the time urging me to take part, not just for myself but for the wider community.

“The result has been really positive for me and I would encourage others to do their bit in helping us all in the fight against coronavirus.

“I truly believe that taking part in the RECOVERY COVID-19 research trial helped me recover from this awful virus and I’d definitely encourage people to take part in the NHS vaccine research trials as it will help others and hopefully save lives in the long run.”

Volunteers can sign up to the vaccine trials here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/research/coronavirus-vaccine-research/.

Further information on the National Recovery trial can here found on their website: https://www.recoverytrial.net/