A new trial in the UK is looking to understand the effects of people being given different types of Coronavirus vaccines for their first and second dose.
Currently, official guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is that people should get the same vaccine for both doses. There are currently two Coronavirus vaccines in use in the UK – the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
If the trial shows positive results, it is hoped that it may be possible to provide more flexibility in the vaccine rollout and continue to vaccinate people in the event of supplies for any one vaccine being unavailable.
The new clinical study launched today in a world-first is backed by £7m of UK Government funding. The study is set to take place over 13 months and will monitor the impact of the different vaccination approach on patients’ immune response.
Initial findings from the study are expected to be released in Summer 2021 and the UK’s vaccination approach is not expected to change before then. A change to the vaccination approach would only take place if proved safe and approved by the JCVI.
It has been suggested that giving two different Coronavirus vaccines could increase the amount of protection from COVID-19 (though it may possibly instead decrease protection). Previously, some vaccination programmes have involved the mixing of vaccines to improve protection.
Speaking about the trial, Minister for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi said;
“This is a hugely important clinical trial that will provide us with more vital evidence on the safety of these vaccines when used in different ways.
“Nothing will be approved for use more widely than the study, or as part of our vaccine deployment programme, until researchers and the regulator are absolutely confident the approach is safe and effective.
“This is another great step forwards for British science, expertise and innovation, backed by government funding – and I look forward to seeing what it produces.”
More than 800 people are expected to take part in the study across 8 different sites in England, including in London, Liverpool and Birmingham. Members of the public can volunteer to take part in the study through the NHS’ vaccine research registry.
The trial starts after the UK passed the milestone this week for delivering 10 million first doses of vaccines against COVID-19 to members of the public.