People in Northern Ireland have played a key role in the development of a new COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax, as part of a UK-wide trial.

The Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN)/ Clinical Research Facility (NICRF) - supported Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is 89.3% effective at preventing COVID-19, shown from interim analysis of its Phase III study data, including effectiveness against the new variants of concern.

The Novavax study is the largest ever double blind, placebo-controlled trial to be undertaken in the UK. It recruited over 15,000 participants from 35 research UK sites (including Belfast) in just over two months. It was the first phase 3 study for the US-based biotechnology firm Novavax’s vaccine anywhere in the world.

Nearly 500 participants were recruited from Northern Ireland for the trial which was led by researchers Professor Danny McAuley, Professor Judy Bradley and Dr Johnny Stewart from Queen’s University Belfast and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

The researchers helped to bring a large group of GPs from General Practice, nurses from the NICRF and NICRN, as well as a large team of administrators together to deliver this trial in the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility at Belfast City Hospital.

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of HSC R&D Division Public Health Agency (PHA), said:

“As funder of Research and Development infrastructure, we are very proud of the part played by Northern Ireland researchers in delivering the Novavax vaccine trial.  This required a huge effort and many long hours of work, and I would like to take this opportunity to commend each and every one of those involved”.