Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced a new clinical trial to look at the use of current COVID-19 vaccines as booster vaccines.
As part of the Cov-Boost study led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, thousands of volunteers will receive a booster vaccine to help provide data on the impact of a third dose on people’s immune responses.
Currently, people are only being offered two vaccine doses against COVID-19, though this could change, with it thought that the antibodies produced by the vaccines may not last for a lifetime.
Seven vaccines are to be trialled as part of the study, which will be the first of its type in the world. 2,826 patients and participants are to be involved, with the vaccinations in the trial due to start from early June.
Initial findings from the trial are expected to help inform decisions by the JCVI around a potential booster programme in Autumn this year, or next Spring. £19.3 million of government funding has been pledged through the vaccine taskforce.
Announcing the trial, Mr Hancock said;
“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.
“I urge 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.”
People are being invited to participate in the trial, which is taking place in a range of UK locations, at www.covboost.org.uk
Booster vaccinations could offer additional protection to people across the country to help avoid large future spikes in cases and deaths from COVID-19.
Suggestions for booster vaccination programmes have prompted some debate over recent weeks, with some calling on rich countries to donate vaccines to other, less-privileged countries before rolling out booster schemes. The research on the effect of third doses on people’s immune systems will likely be important for deciding if booster programmes go ahead – and if so, how.