The British Government is encouraging elderly people and volunteers from black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups to sign up to a Covid-19 vaccine trial registry.

The latest announcement comes as part of efforts to find a working vaccine against coronavirus that offers protection for higher risk groups.

More than 100,000 people have volunteered to take part in the Covid-19 vaccine trials, but more participants are needed to ensure that the potential drug candidate works for everyone.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “Scientists and researchers are working day and night to find a vaccine that meets the UK’s rigorous regulatory and safety standards, but they need hundreds of thousands of people of all backgrounds and ages to sign up for studies to speed up this vital research.

“I urge everyone to play our part in the fight against coronavirus and join the 100,000 people who have already registered, so we can help save and protect millions of lives.”

No vaccine candidate has yet been proven effective against Covid-19, but nearly 20 are currently involved in clinical trials.

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National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Consultant Respiratory Physician Dinesh Saralaya said: “The best way to protect us from future outbreaks is to develop effective vaccines. Several vaccine trials are being conducted around the UK in the coming months and it is important that we all sign up to be contacted about them.

“I would like to reassure people that research trials and studies are strictly regulated for ethics and safety.”

In April this year, the UK Government launched a clinical trial programme to fast-track the development of new drug candidates to treat hospitalised Covid-19 patients. Named ACCORD, this new initiative is intended to cut time taken to set up clinical trials for new treatments from months to weeks.