(REUTERS/Anton Vaganov)

Global pharmaceutical giant Janssen will begin clinical trials of its potential vaccine in the UK from Monday (November 16), involving 6,000 volunteers across the country.

The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, part of Johnson & Johnson, is the latest study in the UK, jointly funded by the government’s Vaccine Taskforce, to test the safety and effectiveness of a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

It is the third potential vaccine to enter clinical trials in the UK, alongside US biotech company Novavax and AstraZeneca, which is developing its COVID-19 vaccine along with the University of Oxford, whose studies are currently ongoing.

As many as 6,000 British volunteers, some from the NHS Vaccines Registry, will take part in the Janssen studies at 17 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) sites, including in Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, London Leicester, Sheffield, Manchester, Dundee and Belfast.

Recruitment into the study will complete in March 2021 and the trial will last for 12 months.

To date, over 300,000 people have signed up to the NHS Vaccines Registry to take part in vital coronavirus vaccine studies.

Experts have cautioned that no one vaccine is likely to be suited for everyone, and that a wide range of types are needed to ensure people across the UK have access to one that works for them, so they are urging more people to sign-up to ensure clinical trials that test the safety and effectiveness of potential vaccine candidates continue.

The NHS Vaccines Registry particularly needs volunteers who are most vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus, including frontline health and social care workers and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.

The UK government has developed a portfolio of six different vaccine candidates and secured access to 350 million doses to date, putting the UK in the best position for a vaccine. Of this, 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine could be made available to the UK if it is safe and effective by mid-2021.

Professor Saul Faust, Director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility and Chief Investigator for the Janssen Phase 3 trial, said: “Finding an effective vaccine with a good safety profile is a top priority in helping to protect us all more quickly against COVID-19. While the news of a potential vaccine is tremendously exciting, our ambition in the scientific community is to ensure we leave no stone unturned in the search for a solution to help end this pandemic.

“All the vaccines that are being trialled work by generating immune responses to the same part of the coronavirus as the RNA vaccine that has announced some interim early results.”

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