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North East played key role in vaccine approval

People in the North East have played a key role in the regulatory approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine being rolled out across the UK this week.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reviewed a wide range of data collected by researchers before granting approval to the new vaccine on December 30.

This included 695 participants who took part at the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Christopher Duncan, honorary consultant in infectious diseases and principle investigator at the trust, said: “I’d like to pay tribute to the participants who selflessly volunteered to take part in this important study. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

“The entire team in Newcastle should be rightly proud of their contribution to this major achievement.”

Development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England and co-lead of the NIHR, said: “The dedication and hard work of scientists, regulators and those who funded the research, such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) and United Kingdom Vaccine Network (UKVN), and the willingness and selflessness of so many volunteers who took part in the vaccine trials were essential in delivering this safe and effective vaccine.

“They deserve our recognition and thanks.”