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Research nurses in the NHS are playing a crucial role in helping to trial new coronavirus treatments and vaccines. Three NDS research nurses stepped up to help with the fight against this new disease. Here Bhumika Patel shares her experience of working on the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Trial.

A vaccine being injected into a woman's upper arm

I supported with the recruitment process of participants in the COVID-19 Phase II/III Vaccine Study as a Research Nurse. The trial is jointly run by the Oxford Vaccine Group (Department of Paediatrics) and Jenner Vaccine Trials team (Nuffield Department of Medicine) at the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine, Churchill Hospital. 

Many people volunteered for the study and many healthcare workers were required to help. Jane NiedererKatherine Gordan-Quayle and I initially helped with screening, ensuring that participants were eligible and safe to take part. The study visits included gaining informed consent, which was ongoing as the protocol developed, and taking bloods samples. Other responsibilities included preparation of the blinded vaccine and observation of participants post vaccination. 

Participants' appointments were back-to-back. Each participant had different requirements depending on the arm or group they were allocated to, so we all had to be meticulous and vigilant! Recruitment completed in early December 2020 and participants will be followed up to a year after vaccination, which I will continue to help with. It was a huge combined effort of many teams, from medical students to lab and admin staff, to make this vaccine possible. 

It was very exciting to put my research experience and skills to use during the first lockdown and I will continue to work on the new upcoming COVID-19 trials

Medicines from clinical trials usually take many years to become licenced. Personally, it was truly amazing to see the analysis as the study rolled out and to receive the Oxford-Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine myself! 

I couldn't work as a front-line nurse, so it was very exciting to put my research experience and skills to use during the first lockdown and I will continue to work on the new upcoming COVID-19 trials with the Oxford Vaccine Group in 2021.  

Bhumika has recently started a new position as Clinical Research Nurse at the Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit.

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