A TOP Bradford pharmacist has urged people to unite in the race to find an "early and effective treatment" for coronavirus amid fears of a third wave.

Dr Mahendra Patel, the national BAME community and pharmacy lead for University of Oxford's PRINCIPLE trial, warned that the vaccine alone is not enough to curb the virus and rising hospital admissions.

Dr Patel asked Bradfordians to ask if Christmas celebrations are worth a "gamble" with the potential loss of life as a direct result. He added that many families who are not part of the Christian faith will also be mixing.

It follows similar warnings earlier this week from Dr Amir Khan, who said households being able to mix between December 23 and 27 will see a "terrible" surge in coronavirus cases in January.

Dr Patel told the Telegraph & Argus: "The lack of certainty around this messaging is becoming an issue, particularly within under-served communities, to understand and comprehend what they are.

"Just because you can, it doesn't mean you should. For the sake of a few days? In a few months time a good number of people up and down the country and the region will have the vaccine. Is it worth that gamble? The penalty to pay is too costly."

Dr Patel is urging more people to sign up to the PRINCIPLE trial, led by the University of Oxford, which is testing two well-known antibiotics as a potential treatment for Covid-19.

Treatment early on in the community can help people aged over 50 recover quickly from Covid-19 illness, without the need for hospital admission. It is hoped early treatment would prevent people from needing care in ICU, relieving pressure on the NHS.

There are currently 10 confirmed COVID-19 patients currently in ICU, according to the latest available data from Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. There are 116 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients currently inpatient trust-wide.

He added: "The vaccine will still be there but we need to continue with the search for an early and effective treatment at the same time.

"Vaccination plus prevention plus treatment plus testing all have to work. But we need an effective treatment and we need your support. I'm crying out so that we don't see the third wave as everybody's predicting, don't have any of our loved ones being affected.

"I'm worried that come January, February, time, if people are not aware that there's a treatment trial, the research going on, then without that evidence and intelligence we will not be able to find a treatment that is effective.

"It's something people can get from the comfort of their own homes without even leaving.

"The vaccines alone are not going to do it. Until they are available for everybody we need an effective treatment. People are still going to be affected by Covid. We need everybody in our area to get behind and promote the fact that this is an important study at the comfort of your home."

Anyone who would like to take part in the national PRINCIPLE trial should email principle@phc.ox.ac.uk or call the team on 0800 138 0880.

Speaking on the need for more BAME participants, Dr Patel said: "BAME communities are disproportionately affected and it is important to raise the awareness as much as possible among these communities, as well as the wider communities, with details of trials such as the PRINCIPLE trial which is the first national primary care trial in the TREATMENT of coronavirus. It is important to engage into such trials in order to help bring out the most safest and effective treatment."