The people of Southampton have been praised for their ‘amazing’ response to Covid-19 vaccine trials, as a new research hub opens in the city.

Tests of a new vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical company Janssen, began yesterday.

The city is one of 17 UK sites to have been chosen to test the jab, with researchers aiming to recruit around 6,000 participants.

The Hampshire trials will take place at the new ‘Hampshire Research Hub’, located at the Royal South Hants (RSH) Hospital.

Speaking to the Echo, Saul Faust, professor of paediatric immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Southampton, said: “The response from the people of Southampton has been amazing and recognised by Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, in one of his press briefings.

“Southampton took part in the Oxford study, Imperial trial and Novavax trials, and this is next in the series of national vaccines.

“They come to us in Southampton because we’ve got experience and expertise in doing vaccine trials.”

Across the UK more than 25,000 people are said to have taken part in Covid-19 vaccine trials with Southampton seeing 1,000 candidates since it began trialling in April.

This new Janssen vaccine has already undergone successful phase one and two trials elsewhere and analysis of the single-dose study suggests tit induces a robust immune response and is generally well-tolerated.

The fresh tests now taking place across the UK will focus on whether second doses of the vaccine increase the immune response and make candidates even less susceptible to the virus.

To sign up, people living local to the testing centres can go to the NHS website to register their interest.

Following this, an email will be sent to them with more information and if they are happy to go further,candidates will be invited to an appointment to meet the team.

Once they receive the vaccine, candidates are given a diary to note any side affects they may experience, and are then free to continue with their lives as normal.

Professor Faust added: “It would be reasonable to assume that mass vaccination for people under 50, is likely to happen between July and September next year.

“Until then it’s really important we get as many people into the trials as possible to understand more about which vaccines to give people when the time comes.”