World Immunisation Week: Northern Ireland’s Global Role in COVID-19 Recovery

World Immunisation Week takes place on the last week of April and this year the World Health Organisation are placing focus on the “importance of vaccination in bringing people together, and improving the health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere throughout life”.

The aim of this year’s World Immunisation Week is uniting to increase trust and confidence in vaccines while also increasing investment in vaccines. In this light, we share Northern Ireland’s role in the vaccination process for the fight against COVID-19.

Scientists and people from Northern Ireland have been playing a key role in the global fight against COVID-19 with a number of clinical trials which will influence how the virus is treated for years to come.

Nearly 500 people from across Northern Ireland took part in the clinical trials for a new COVID-19 Vaccine, Novavax, which has shown to be 89.3% effective.

The research site in Belfast was one of a number across the UK hosting the trial, and was led by researchers Professor Danny McAuley, Professor Judy Bradley and Dr Johnny Stewart from Queen’s University. They stated that “the contribution of volunteers in Northern Ireland has been really important in progressing the Novavax programme”.

The trial has shown results of high efficacy against the virus and in particular against the new variant which is very promising and is hoped to lead to exciting future collaborative research studies. Read more about this trial here.

In addition to Northern Ireland’s role in the vaccination research, we are playing a wider role in fighting the virus with other key research at our outstanding universities.

Ulster University Research: InflaTmP: A novel combination anti-inflammatory and anti-viral biotherapeutic for COVID-19 targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome and TMPRSS2

An important research project is being carried out by the University of Ulster in collaboration with Trinity College, Dublin, where they are exploring why some people experience mild symptoms while others react more severely to the virus. The approach will tackle two major problems associated with the virus: viral replication and associated damage in the lungs and exuberant local and systemic inflammation.




Queen’s University Belfast Research: Sequencing of SARS-CoV2 – Uncovering an ever-changing virus

Furthermore, Northern Ireland is playing a significant role in the detection of new variants of the virus through genome sequencing. Pinpointing specific genetic changes helps identify new clusters and chains of infections which is a crucial part of tackling the pandemic. The results from Northern Ireland are fed into global Consortium contributing to the whole genome sequencing effort.


Northern Ireland continues to play a significant role in the research for vaccines, increasing trust and accessibility, as well as contributing to health and well-being on a wider scale.

Catch up with the latest policy information and news from the Northern Ireland Department of Health here.