Portsmouth residents needed for new Covid vaccine variant study

PORTSMOUTH residents are needed to take part in a new study to protect against variants of Covid-19.

By Fiona Callingham
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 4:52 pm
Picture: Sarah Standing (010221-1969)
Picture: Sarah Standing (010221-1969)

Around 70 local volunteers will be involved in research to explore how well an AstraZeneca variant vaccine protects against the Beta Covid variant, first found in South Africa, via the Portsmouth Research Hub at the John Pounds Centre in Portsea.

Researchers will evaluate the immune response caused by the vaccine, which has 10 minor genetic changes to the spike protein based on the Beta variant.

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It comes as part of a global study led by the University of Oxford and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which will need approximately 2,475 volunteers.

Dr Patrick Moore, Dorset GP and the local investigator for the trial, said: ‘While the hugely successful NHS rollout of approved vaccines progresses at pace, it is important that we continue our Covid-19 vaccine research and gather vital evidence that will help ensure we are in a strong position to respond to variants of concern if needed in the future.

‘We have been overwhelmed by the response from the public, who continue to step forward to support our research and play a key part in tackling the pandemic. We would like to thank them for their contributions to this important research.’

The AstraZeneca Beta variant study is the second to be delivered at the Portsmouth Research Hub, which was set up in March this year to support Covid-19 vaccine research.

Since then, city residents have also supported the COV-boost study, which is looking at different Covid-19 vaccines given as a third ‘booster’ dose. The first phase of the COV-Boost study is now fully recruited, with initial results expected in September 2021.

Professor Andrew Ustianowski, NIHR clinical lead for the Covid-19 vaccination programme, added: ‘Throughout the pandemic the UK has demonstrated its expertise in clinical vaccine research, consistently supported by the fantastic efforts of tens of thousands of study participants.

‘The latest booster study from Oxford/AstraZeneca is just one of the latest, world-leading steps in our battle to tackle the virus and one of the variants of concern.’

Those interested in finding out more about Covid-19 vaccine research and future opportunities to take part locally can register their interest by visiting nhs.uk/researchcontact.

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