New Covid-19 booster vaccine study to launch in Portsmouth targeting Omicron variant where volunteers get subsidised for taking part in trial

MEDICAL experts are launching a new study in Portsmouth into a fourth Covid-19 booster vaccination.

It will take place at the Portsmouth Research Hub in Portsea, with the new inoculation targeting the Omicron variant.

Roughly 30 volunteers are needed for the research, which is part of the COVI-BOOST trial.

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A trial testing a fourth booster vaccine for Covid-19 will be launching in Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (010221-2020).

The investigation, led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS), provided the world’s first data on the safety, immune responses, and side-effects of different Covid-19 vaccines – when provided as a third dose in mix and match schedules.

Linda Harndahl, research hub project manager at the Portsmouth Research Hub, said the trust needs roughly 30 volunteers – who received their third dose at least three months ago – as part of the trial.

He added: ‘We’re excited to be supporting another Covid-19 vaccine trial here at the Portsmouth Research Hub, this time looking at the safety and effectiveness of Moderna’s new bivalent vaccine targeting both the original and Omicron variant.

‘None of the research that we have supported throughout the pandemic would have been possible without our volunteers, who have so generously given up their time to support our work.’

Half of the volunteers will receive a fourth dose of Moderna’s new bivalent vaccine.

It has been designed to target both the original and Omicron variants of Covid-19.

Other participants will be given a Pfizer vaccine, targeting the original Covid variant.

Medical experts will be monitoring the immune responses and safety of the new bivalent jab.

Professor Saul Faust, chief investigator of the COV-BOOST trial, said: ‘The different Omicron coronavirus variants are now the most common causing Covid-19. Due to mutations on the spike protein, they are more capable than previous variants of evading the immune response generated by existing Covid-19 vaccines.

‘We want to determine the side effect profile, safety and immune responses of Moderna’s new bivalent vaccine, which targets both the original and Omicron variants of Covid-19, compared to Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, when used as a fourth booster dose.’

Volunteers have to be aged 30 or over, and have not tested positive for Covid within the last three months.

They will be reimbursed of up to £225 for their time and travel expenses, depending on the number of study visits they attend.

People can see if they’re eligible for the trial here.