MORE than 2,000 people have signed up to covid-19 vaccine trials in Bradford following a myth-busting Q&A with some of the district's top health figures.

Hosted by Bradford Foundation Trust, the live Q&A saw residents question conspiracy theories and express their fears about the Novavax vaccine.

Guest speakers not only included well-known health experts such as Professor John Wright and Professor Dinesh Saralaya but also Hassan Joudi from the Muslim Council of Britain and Islamic scholar Mufti Amjad M. Mohammed.

It set out to understand mistrust and provide answers to rumours about the vaccine that are widely spread and unchallenged on social media.

US biotechnology company Novavax is conducting its mass vaccine trial in Bradford but many professionals have been concerned about the lack of participation from black, Asian, minority, ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Mufti Amjad M. Mohammed suggested one of the biggest issues around the lack of participation could be issues surrounding religion, such as 'Is the vaccine halal?'. The scholar reassured Muslims that participating in the vaccine follows the moral code, Sharia law, because it supports taking a preventative measure to save life, easing the lives of people and that "the person's intentions are to serve good". Meanwhile Dr Saralaya reassured followers that the vaccine contains no animal products - a huge factor, he claims, as to why the Government has ordered £60million pounds worth of Novavax doses.

Responding to a question on whether this is "the next step to control us and install a microchip to monitor us", Hader Zaman, head of school for Pharmacy and Medical at the University of Bradford, referenced how nano technologies have been in use since the 1950s and first used in the 60s in prevention against cardiac toxicity.

He added: "I think that's the most challenging question of the evening you've just passed to me there...This is nothing to be concerned about when it comes to nano formulations.

"A nano particle is by definition less than 100 nano metres."

Another asked Professor Wright about claims that the vaccine contained cell linings originally taken from the lung tissues of aborted foetus to which he replied: "This is a very unfair question really.

"Some of the cell lines which we have developed, many of our drugs not just vaccines but drugs for MS, rheumatoid arthritis, come from the 1960s and 70s and were taken from aborted foetuses at the time. But that's 40, 50 years ago. The clones of those cells are how we develop new drugs, vaccines, they become the method for how we grow them. But to think that babies are dying for this, this is nonsense."

In the more in-depth questions, doctors debunked myths about the use of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and nano technology.

Professor Wright received a question about two vaccines being manufactured which are being created with mRNA - often perceived as being new and non-traditional - and whether this type of vaccine had been approved for human use. He replied: "We often talk about a single race here for a safe and effective vaccine but we've got three races going on at the moment. The first is to get a safe and effective vaccine, the second is to be able to be able to reel that out at speed and the NHS is preparing for that at the moment. While underlying this evening's webinar is vaccine hesitancy, there are 50-60 per cent of the population who are dying, who are crying out for this vaccine. We will have millions of people who are wanting this vaccine very quickly. The vaccine hesitancy is quite normal, especially with what this question is alluding to that it's been developed at speed or uncertain technology, for people who are hesitant this is a completely understandable perspective. The people most at risk are the people from the BAME community, or the more deprived areas. The people who will gain most from this vaccine is the people from BAME communities and from poorer communities.

"I've spent many years working in Africa. You don't see deaths from measles or tetanus in this country because we're so used to vaccinating with safe, effective vaccines. Deaths from measles and tetanus are terrible ways to die, just as covid-19.

"This is new, and it's important to remember there are a number of platforms for vaccines. We have traditional ones. These are infectious agents that we're using and this is what we use for all our vaccines and these are tried and tested. The novelty about mRNA vaccines as with the nano proteins, as with Dinesh's trial, it's that these are non-infectious agents and so we hope they will cause less side effects, be easier to produce and to be safer long-term and perhaps more effective.

"mRNA drugs have been around 20 years or so, developed in the 1990s, they've been used in lymphomas and leukemia, so this is well-established technology, well-established bio-technology for treating serious illnesses. This is the first time we've had it for vaccines and that's why it's exciting but also I can understand people's nervousness."

You can watch the full Q&A via the Bradford Foundation Trust Facebook page.