Key UK trial on third booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine begins

London - A booster vaccine in the trial will include seven vaccines: British Health secretary

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Thu 20 May 2021, 4:17 PM

Described as a ‘world-first’, Britain’s health officials on Thursday (May 20) announced a new clinical trial to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses and how each available vaccine fares in the process.

The third dose to sustain protection after the first two doses are delivered is expected to be administered towards the end of the year.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said thousands of volunteers will receive a booster vaccine in the trial called Cov-Boost that will include seven vaccines. It is expected to give scientists from around the globe a better idea of the impact of a booster dose of each vaccine in protecting individuals from the virus.

The study will take place in 16 sites across England, besides sites in Wales and Scotland, including a total of 2,886 patients. The initial findings, expected in September, will help inform decisions on the United Kingdom’s (UK) plans for a booster programme from autumn this year, ensuring the country’s most vulnerable are given the strongest possible protection over the winter period.

Hancock said: “The UK vaccination programme has been a phenomenal national effort, with seven in 10 adults now having had their first jab. It is vital that we continue to support the world-renowned British research sector that has contributed to its success.”

He added: “We will do everything we can to future-proof this country from pandemics and other threats to our health security, and the data from this world-first clinical trial will help shape the plans for our booster programme later this year.”

The trial will look at seven different vaccines as potential boosters, given at least 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose as part of the ongoing vaccination programme. One booster will be provided to each volunteer and could be a different brand to the one they were originally vaccinated with.

Vaccines undergoing trial include Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac, as well as a control group. The trial that has received ethics approval will seek to include participants from a wide variety of backgrounds, and individuals from ethnic minorities are encouraged to apply to take part.

Nadhim Zahawi, the British Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment, said: “With over 57 million vaccines administered since the beginning of the rollout, the programme continues its fantastic trajectory. 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”.

Officials said overall, the UK has secured access to 517 million doses of eight of the most promising vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech for 100 million doses, including the additional 60 million doses for the booster programme; Oxford/AstraZeneca (100 million doses); Moderna (17 million doses); Janssen (30 million doses); Novavax (60 million doses); Valneva (100 million doses); GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur (60 million doses); and CureVac (50 million doses).

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