Sheffield researchers join national challenge to find a vaccine to prevent COVID-19

  • Sheffield will host a trial to assess the effectiveness of a new COVID-19 vaccine as part of a national study led by the University of Oxford
  • Over 1000 Sheffield volunteers will be recruited to take part in the study
  • The University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and many health and care organisations across the city are supporting the pivotal study

The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (image courtesy of the University of Oxford).

The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals are taking part in a major national research trial investigating how well a potential new vaccine could protect against COVID-19.

The pioneering study will assess how well a new vaccine developed by Oxford University, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, can generate an effective immune response against COVID-19 in a wide range of people.

The trial, which is being run in partnership with Sheffield Teachings Hospitals and many of the health and social care organisations across the City, is aiming to recruit over 1,000 healthy volunteers who have a Sheffield postcode to take part in the research. Many of the volunteers work in frontline roles and are at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

Dr Tom Darton, from the Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, Florey Advanced Clinical Fellow at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals explained: “People taking part in the trial will be randomised to receive a single dose of either the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or a licensed meningitis vaccine (MenACWY) which will be used as a ‘control’ for comparison.

“Participants will only be able to find out if they received the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine at the end of the trial. This is to ensure there is no bias during the trial, as people can act differently towards their health if they are aware of the vaccine they have received.

“The study will take up to a year to complete, with participants attending the clinic at the Royal Hallamshire up to eight times for assessment and blood tests to check their health and to look at their immune responses to the vaccine. Many of us working on this study have been caring for patients with COVID-19 since cases were first detected in the UK back in February, and so we are delighted to now be able to contribute to this crucial stage of vaccine development and disease prevention efforts. Our work builds on the ongoing efforts by the Trust and University, which has already provided new insights into the science, diagnosis and new therapeutics for those affected by the pandemic.”

Professor Simon Heller, Director of Research and Development at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of the national effort to test this potential new vaccine for COVID-19 in Sheffield. We have a long and proud history of developing and contributing to key clinical research and I am immensely proud of the teams here and at the University of Sheffield who have worked so hard to bring this hugely important research trial to Sheffield.”

Additional information

  • For more information about the trial and how to get involved visit or email: email
  • The Sheffield work is being supported by the Sheffield National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Facility, which is based at the Royal Hallamshire and Northern General Hospitals.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:

• funds high quality research to improve health
• trains and supports health researchers
• provides world-class research facilities
• works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
• involves patients and the public at every step.

For further information, visit the NIHR website


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Rebecca Ferguson
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