First participants aged between 50-70 have been given a vaccine to protect against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Eighty four people will participate in the trial taking place on the NIHR Liverpool Clinical Research Facility (CRF), aiming to develop a vaccine against MERS, a viral illness spread from camels to humans, with large number of all infections proving fatal.
This is the trial of a vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Oxford’s Pandemic Sciences Institute, funded by CEPI, and delivered collaboratively by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Liverpool University Hospitals NIHR Liverpool Clinical Research Facility.
This trial follows two previous Phase I clinical trials in the UK and Saudi Arabia. These trials found the vaccine generated a strong immune response against MERS after one dose and was well tolerated by healthy volunteers aged 18 to 50. This trial will build on earlier results and will examine vaccine safety and immune responses in older people, after one and two doses of the vaccine.
MERS originates from the same viral family as COVID-19. It was the research into the current MERS vaccine that paved the way for such rapid development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in 2020.
Research Participant Frieda, aged 65, was amongst the first cohort of participants to receive the vaccine at the NIHR Liverpool CRF.
Freida said: “When I got the email, I was really interested because I had heard about MERS because I used to work in the NHS. I remember when there was a MERS outbreak in the Middle East and we were all sent an email saying we had to look out for any patients who might have either travelled from there or been on holiday there, so I knew about it, and I was interested.
“Then, of course after COVID, you’re much more motivated to be able to look for prevention. It’s much better if you can track these viruses and come up with a vaccine to stop them taking off.”
“I would say that I feel very safe. It’s a very professional set-up. It’s incredibly interesting. I would recommend it to anyone. If you feel like you’re able to contribute something and help the team to hopefully come up with a vaccine against MERS.”
Director of the NIHR Liverpool Clinical Research Facility and a Consultant Physician, Dr Richard Fitzgerald said: “We are excited that our facility has been selected to take care of the patients who are involved in this important clinical trial to find a vaccine against MERS coronavirus.
“Data collect from previous stages of this trial enabled scientists and clinicians to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, and we are proud to be part of the next phase, looking at an older cohort of participants and how this vaccine can protect them against MERS.”
The trial will build on earlier results and will examine vaccine safety and immune responses in older people, after one and two doses of the vaccine.”
Dr Andrea Collins, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and trial Principal Investigator said: “We are excited at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to deliver this Phase I clinical trial. We have already recruited thousands of participants into infectious disease and vaccination clinical trials, and we have a database of amazing volunteers in Liverpool stepping forward to participate just like they did during the COVID-19 pandemic. We couldn’t do this without them, so thank you to every one of them.”
For more information about the NIHR Liverpool Clinical Research Facility or to get involved in research email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0151 706 4860.