Scientists developing a vaccine against Covid-19 are seeking 500 volunteers from among NHS workers in south east Wales to take part in trials.
The first stage of the Oxford researchers’ trials began in April and with more than 1,000 immunised it is recruiting again.
The next stage will enrol up to 10,260 people, with 500 from Wales including Aneurin Bevan health board staff.
Some older adults and children aged over five will also be recruited.
The venture involves Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Public Health Wales and Cardiff University’s Centre for Trials Research.
On Sunday the UK government said it had an agreement for 30 million doses of the Oxford vaccine to be available by September if the trial was successful, as part of a 100 million-dose agreement.
Of the people who were initially recruited, half were to receive the Covid-19 vaccine while half would receive a control vaccine that protected against meningitis but not coronavirus.
Volunteers will not know which vaccine they have received, but doctors will.
First Minister Mark Drakeford told the Welsh Government’s daily news briefing that scientific advancements, including the Oxford-led trial in Wales, could help “change the course of the way in which we respond” to the outbreak.
The expert leading the drive to recruit volunteers said scientists need to see whether the vaccine really works.
Coronavirus vaccine ‘We need people at risk of infection’
Dr Chris Williams from Public Health Wales said the Welsh volunteers are being sought from NHS staff at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
“We need to recruit people who have a slightly higher chance of being exposed,” Dr Williams told BBC Radio Wales’ Breakfast show.
“We need people who are out and about in the community who are at risk of infection – and test it in people who don’t have the virus, but have a chance of getting it.
“We want to see if it works in the general population.”
Prof Sue Bale from the Aneurin Bevan health board said the trials would be done “in a very controlled environment.”
“What we are looking to see is are these participants going to make antibodies, how will they get the antibodies, how many of the antibodies will they get and how long those antibodies are sustained,” she said.
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“It’s important to do that in a very controlled environment as part of a clinical trial because it’s the only way you will gather all of that information.”
She believes there will be no shortage in staff wanting to take part.
“Our staff are faced every day with the reality of what covid looks like. They’re seeing those patients, they see what it means to have the disease,” she said.
“I think there’ll be a lot of enthusiasm to be part of the solution.”
“Around every table, the public across Wales are talking about, ‘when are we going to get the vaccine? ow are we going to get the vaccine? we want it now – we want to get on with our lives'”
The health board employs more than 13,000 staff.
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