MORE than 500 Dorset residents, in particular those from 'at risk' groups, are being asked to take place in vital trials as part of the search for a Covid-19 vaccine.

This key trial, opening at the new research hub at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, will be used to help confirm the safety and effectiveness of a new vaccine – described as "promising" by the NHS – which is being developed by American bio-technology company Noravax.

Researchers are particularly keen to make sure the vaccine protects those most at risk of severe Covid-19, so they are calling on volunteers from the over 65s, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background – and those with pre-existing health conditions – to get involved.

None of the participants will be exposed to deliberate infection during the trials.

Dr Patrick Moore, a Dorset GP and the local investigator of the study, said: "This important research will help us to find a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19, to protect us all more quickly and end the pandemic sooner.

“To help us make sure that any vaccine developed will work for everyone, we need people aged 18-84 from all backgrounds, to take part in the study.

“In Dorset, we are particularly looking for people in the most at risk Covid-19 groups. Those with stable, pre-existing health conditions, those over 65 years old and those from Black or Asian ethnic backgrounds.

“Our county is playing a key part in the global search for a Covid-19 vaccine, and we’d like to thank the people of Dorset for coming together with the NHS to find a way out of this pandemic."

Those taking part in the study will either receive the Novavax vaccine or a placebo (a saline injection), so that the immune response caused by the vaccine can be confirmed.

The vaccine being tested cannot give volunteers the virus and volunteers will not be exposed to deliberate infection.

After immunisation, volunteers will be regularly monitored over the next 12 months to understand the longevity of the immune response and the degree of protection given.

The vaccine is one of many candidates being trialled across the NHS nationally, and in the south region, in the next few months.

Dr Moore said: "This vaccine is one of six in national trials all aimed at getting an effective vaccine, faster.

"We in the NHS are calling on those interested in taking part in this study, or future studies, to sign up via the NHS Covid-19 Vaccine Research Registry, created to help the people across the country take part in this search over the coming months.”

Sign up to the NHS Covid-19 Vaccine Research Registry at if you want to help.