A new clinical trial has been launched in the UK to see whether a third Covid vaccine dose could protect people against Covid-19 and its variants.
This world-first Cov-Boost trial will see seven existing vaccines tested in order to see which jabs could be used in any autumn vaccination programmes.
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Those who received their first dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine in December or January are being encouraged to sign up, with around 2,886 people aged 30 and older are being recruited at 18 NHS sites across the UK.
The £19.3 million clinical trial will test the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, Janssen, Valneva and CureVac vaccines.
Experts believe that all seven vaccines will boost immunity, with the first booster jabs to be administered in early June.
Lab studies will also check the response of the vaccines to variants circulating in the UK, including those from India, Kent and South Africa.
Three of the vaccines will also be tested at a half dose, with experts expecting an adequate immune response at this level.
The half doses are being administered in order to inform whether side-effects are reduced at a lower dose. This could offer useful information to countries where vaccine supply may be more reduced.
Where will the trial sites be?
The 18 NHS sites across the UK will be split into three groups, with each group testing a different set of vaccines.
The sites include:
All of the information from the trial sites will be reported back to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) at the end of August or early September.
The information gathered will include data on side-effects and if a person’s third booster jab is different from what was used for their first two vaccines.
The JCVI will then use this data to guide the Government on whether people should be boosted with a third Covid vaccine dose and which jabs should be used.
‘Play a part in protecting the most vulnerable people in this country and around the world’
Professor Saul Faust, director of the National Institute for Health Research Southampton clinical research facility and lead investigator for the trial, said the “hope of a booster is that we raise the antibody level enough to be able to cover existing and variant strains of coronavirus.”
He added: “We’re hoping the immune responses will be high enough to protect people against all the strains circulating in the UK, including we’ll be testing in the lab against the Indian variant, the South African variant, the Kent variant as well as the original strain.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said he urges “everyone who has had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and is eligible, to sign up for this study and play a part in protecting the most vulnerable people in this country and around the world for months and years to come.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Having taken part in a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial myself, I would encourage everyone eligible to volunteer – whatever your religion, ethnicity or background.”
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to get involved with such an historic initiative.”
People can sign up for the new trial on the Cov-Boost trial website.