A SOUTHAMPTON drug safety research team are to start studying one of the coronavirus vaccines. 

The Drug Safety Research Unit (DSRU) in Southampton is now beginning to monitor the safety of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, proactively collecting near ‘real-time’ data from patients receiving the jabs.

The DSRU is enrolling at least 10,000 patients who will be contacted at regular intervals after receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and asked whether they are experiencing any possible side effects. 

The study is one element of a series of measures to help protect the public, ensuring any adverse effects are quickly recognised and acted upon.

Professor Saad Shakir, DSRU Director, said: “Creating new COVID-19 vaccines so quickly is a triumph for scientists.

"They have been subject to thorough evaluation of their efficacy and safety by the UK’s regulator, the MHRA.

"But the development process does not end now. Monitoring the safety and effectiveness of new products once they are being used in ‘real-life’ by the UK population is also an essential component.

“These ‘post-authorisation’ studies are even more important for new COVID-19 vaccines that have been fast-tracked through clinical trials.

"To offer the greatest protection to public health, these studies must be fully transparent, report quickly in as near real-time as possible and be conducted independently rather than by vaccine manufacturers.

“The public can then be reassured that the vaccine has not only be subjected to rigorous assessment by the UK’s regulator but remains under continuous monitoring so prompt action can be taken if any concerns arise.”

The DSRU is recruiting people from the Phase I vaccination group, which includes all those aged over 50, health and social care workers and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. 

The research unit is encouraging people from all four UK nations to take part whether or not they’ve experienced any symptoms after vaccination.

People can express their interest in taking part in the study before vaccination, or sign up within 28 days of receiving the vaccination.

 All participants will be asked basic information about the vaccine and their health. They will then receive questionnaires at intervals for up to 18 months – the anticipated length of the study.

For more information visit dsru.org.