Millions of contributors are helping the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how.

October 8, 2020

This article has not been updated recently

The quest for a vaccine against COVID-19 is one of the most pressing scientific challenges facing us right now. 

COVID Symptom Study app contributors are playing a vital role in two key ways: volunteering to take part in clinical trials to test new vaccines, and providing vital information about the symptoms of COVID-19 to make sure these trials are as quick and effective as possible. 

Read on to learn more.

Volunteer to take part in clinical trials through the COVID Symptom Study app

Any new vaccine has to be tested in clinical trials to make sure it is safe and effective.

Early stage trials are small, involving just tens or hundreds of people. But later stage trials need to include many thousands of people, to make sure that the vaccine works across the wider population and to check for any unexpected rare side effects. 

Back in July we put a call out to all our COVID Symptom Study app contributors inviting them to join our vaccine registry, and an amazing 800,000 people applied. 

Since then, we’ve been working behind the scenes with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and NHS Digital, who are coordinating the national vaccine trials. 

Based on the requirements for the types of participants needed for the trials, we are now starting to invite specific groups of users who joined our registry to sign up to be contacted by researchers about taking part in the vaccine trials that are now open. 

The requirements for each trial vary, so if you’ve not been contacted yet, don’t worry. There will be many vaccine trials that launch over the course of the next year, and we will contact suitable members of our vaccine registry in due course.

It’s really important that researchers can draw on a wide range of people to take part in these vital trials, to help make sure that any COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for everyone.

Even if you haven’t joined the COVID Symptom Study app registry yet, you can still sign up to be contacted about opportunities to take part in COVID-19 vaccine trials

Simply download the latest version of the COVID Symptom Study app and it will ask if you’re interested in being contacted when relevant opportunities come up.

Helping COVID-19 vaccine trials run quickly and smoothly

The second way that COVID Symptom Study app users can help with vaccine research is simple: just keep on logging your health on a daily basis through the app. This data is providing vital insights into COVID-19 that are being used to shape vaccine trials. 

We're working with CEPI which is part of COVAX - a global alliance of over 180 countries working together to develop and test COVID-19 vaccines which can be made available to people around the world - to help them run trials as quickly and efficiently as possible

By using powerful machine learning algorithms to analyse data from millions of app users, we’re able to spot the early warning signs of COVID-19 and predict who is likely to have the disease, even without a test. Not only is this a powerful way to predict the rates of COVID-19 across the country, it’s incredibly useful for vaccine trials. As it helps researchers know how best to target participants for testing, so they can get answers on whether the vaccine is working as quickly and simply as possible.

Contribute to vital COVID-19 research in just one minute every day

You don’t have to take part in a clinical trial to join the quest for a COVID-19 vaccine or contribute to life-saving scientific research. You’ll be getting involved and playing your part simply by downloading and using the app for just one minute every day to log your health.

All the insights that have come from the COVID Symptom Study app have only been possible thanks to our millions of regular contributors. We urge you to keep logging through the months ahead and encourage friends and family to join too. 

Keep safe and keep logging! 

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