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21st March 2021

UK COVID-19 research passes one million participants

More than one million people have now taken part in COVID-19 research across the UK including over 36,000 participants in Wales who have been part of 114 studies under the leadership of Health and Care Research Wales.

During the last 12 months the Welsh research community has played a key role in supporting the development of multiple vaccines, as well as identifying new treatments, diagnoses and tests for COVID-19.

This remarkable feat, achieved by members of the public, NHS staff, research teams, regulators, life science companies and policy makers, has enabled world-leading research into therapeutics such as dexamethasone and tocilizumab, delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and more. Groundbreaking platform studies such as RECOVERY, PRINCIPLE and REMAP-CAP have all made a significant contribution to the global understanding of COVID-19.

These discoveries have significantly improved outcomes for people who get the virus, especially those most at risk of becoming severely unwell and hospitalised. Without such significant support from the public, this vital research would not have been possible.

To coincide with the announcement of one million participants, a UK-wide #ResearchVsCovid ‘thank you’ campaign is being launched today to celebrate the efforts of participants, researchers and healthcare professionals for their involvement in COVID-19 research. People are encouraged to join in with their own thank you’s to anyone they know who has been involved in COVID research in some way.

Professor Kieran Walshe, Director of Health and Care Research Wales said: “Never before has research been more important and the fight against coronavirus has put it at the forefront of all our minds. The health and care system in Wales has responded magnificently by delivering research into treatments for COVID-19 and vaccine development, as well the effective management of the pandemic at a pace and scale which is unprecedented. It’s important to recognise how far we’ve come, and it could not have been done without the people who stepped forward to contribute to the studies and make the research possible.”

Gwawr Evans, assistant general manager for scheduled care at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board took part in the Oxford University / Astrazeneca vaccine trial that was hosted within the health board. She said: “I think research is important especially in medicine. Knowing that I have been part of the Oxford vaccine trial makes me feel proud, when you hear about it in the news I feel I have a personal connection to it, so it’s not this strange term, it’s something that I have been part of and in a small way contributed to.”

Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Research and Development in health and social care said: “Research has provided a beacon of hope during this pandemic. I am so proud of the efforts of all our healthcare staff, research teams, patients and members of the public who have been involved in multiple Covid-19 studies across Wales during this last 12 months.  Together, they have helped identify treatments to improve the outcomes of the sickest patients and led to the discovery of the effective vaccines that are saving lives today, and I would like to say ‘diolch o galon’ to them all.’