Covid vaccines: Australian state to trial new low-dose booster

If successful, the method could help countries stretch supplies, cut costs


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Published: Fri 6 May 2022, 1:35 PM

Last updated: Fri 6 May 2022, 1:40 PM

A new global trial of Covid-19 vaccines is set to begin in the Australian state of Victoria, which will administer lower dose booster vaccines in an effort to top up immunity, lessen side effects, and stretch the supplies.

The large-scale trial, announced to the public by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) on Friday, would see 800 participants in Victoria receive a low dose of a Covid-19 booster vaccine.

A representative from the MCRI told Xinhua on Friday that the program would use half doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 15 micrograms as opposed to 30 micrograms, and the Moderna vaccine would be administered at 20 micrograms, rather than 50.

Following receiving the shot, participants would be required to take four separate blood tests to monitor antibody levels, fill out an online diary card for seven days, and receive follow-up calls to assess the side effects they experienced.

The study seeks to assess the impacts and use the results to guide future global vaccination strategies.Trial lead, Professor Kim Mulholland from the MCRI, said the testing would be crucial as the world begins to deal with waning immunity at the current stage of the pandemic.

“All countries are struggling with the issue of how best to maintain Covid-19 immunity in their populations,” said Mulholland.

“Our trial will specifically examine how best to vaccinate communities with follow-up booster shots and the timings around these subsequent booster doses.”

He added not only would it allow countries to stretch their vaccine supplies further and cut costs, but it also could improve the uptake as side effects are expected to be less serious. The trial would also test whether using a booster vaccine different from one’s initial shots could provide a superior immune response.


The MCRI has previously taken a stake in global vaccine equity, publishing research on maximizing global vaccine supply and giving greater access to vaccines for a variety of diseases in developing countries.

The project has received funding from the international body, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which pledged 12.3 million Australian dollars (about 8.8 million U.S. dollars) in funding to the MCRI to run the trial.

The trial would enlist a total of 3,800 participants across Australia, Indonesia and Mongolia.

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