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UK launches world-first COVID-19 vaccine booster study

Vaccine vial. Stock photo: By Ali Raza/Pixabay

London, May 20 (MNN) Thousands of volunteers will receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine in a new clinical trial launching on Wednesday, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The Cov-Boost study, led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and backed by 19.3 million pounds of government funding through the Vaccines Taskforce, will trial seven vaccines and will be the first in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses.

It will give scientists from around the globe and the experts behind the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme a better idea of the impact of a booster dose of each vaccine in protecting individuals from the virus.

The study will take place at 16 NIHR-supported sites across England, and also within Health and Care Research Wales and NHS Research Scotland sites. It will include a total of 2,886 patients and participants are to begin being vaccinated from early June.

All participants will be monitored throughout the study for any side effects and will have bloods taken to measure their immune responses at days 28, 84, 308 and 365, with a small number having additional blood tests at other times.

All sites will have an electronic diary for all participants that will send alerts to the team in real time if needed and a 24-hour emergency phone to a doctor on the study, who can provide further clinical advice.

The initial findings, expected in September, will help inform decisions by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on 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.

The Health Secretary has also announced that the 2021 G7 Health Ministers’ Meeting will be held in-person at Oxford University on June 3 and 4.

As part of the UK’s G7 Presidency, it will bring together health leaders from the world’s leading democracies to agree life-saving action in the critical areas of clinical trials, global health security, antimicrobial resistance, and digital health to help protect us all from future pandemics.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “The UK vaccination programme has been a phenomenal national effort, with seven in 10 UK adults now having had their first COVID-19 jab. It is vital that we continue to support the world-renowned British research sector that has contributed to its success.”

The trial will look at seven different COVID-19 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 being trialled include Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac, as well as a control group.

The trial has received ethics approval by the NHS Research Ethics Committee, as well as approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The UK’s vaccination programme continues at record pace, with over 57.8 million vaccinations administered in total – 36.9 million first doses, which amounts to seven in 10 UK adults being given one jab – and 20.8 million second doses, which gives people even stronger protection.

The government is preparing for a booster programme based on clinical need and will publish further details in due course.

The final policy will be informed by advice from the JCVI and take into account the results of clinical trials.

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