World-first Covid vaccine booster trial to launch in the UK - including in Portsmouth

A WORLD-FIRST £19m clinical trial to see whether a booster vaccine could protect from Covid-19 and its variants has been launched in the UK.

Seven existing vaccines are to be tested in the Cov-Boost trial to see which jabs could be used in any forthcoming autumn vaccination programme.

A total of 2,886 people, aged 30 and older, are being recruited at 18 NHS sites - including in Portsmouth and Southampton - with the first booster jabs administered in early June.

Scientists want people who received their first dose of either Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca in December or January to sign up, and hope people aged 75 and over will also come forward.

A Covid vaccine booster trial is being rolled out in the UK. Picture: Sheffield Newspapers

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Experts believe that all seven vaccines will boost immunity, and lab studies will check their response to variants circulating in the UK, including those from India, Kent and South Africa.

Professor Saul Faust, director of the National Institute for Health Research Southampton clinical research facility and lead investigator for the trial, said the ‘hope of a booster is that we raise the antibody level enough to be able to cover existing and variant strains of coronavirus.’

He added: ‘We’re hoping the immune responses will be high enough to protect people against all the strains circulating in the UK, including we’ll be testing in the lab against the Indian variant, the South African variant, the Kent variant as well as the original strain.’

The £19.3 million clinical trial will test the Pfizer jab alongside those from AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, Janssen from Johnson & Johnson, Valneva and CureVac.

All of the information will be fed to to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) at the end of August or early September.

Researchers stressed that the aim of the new study is not to pit the vaccines against one another, but to check whether they all increase antibodies and to look for potential side-effects.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt 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.’

Vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, added: ‘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.’

Further results from the ComCov clinical trial, which aims to determine the effects of using different vaccines for the first and second dose, are due in the coming months.

People can sign up for the new trial at

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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