Volunteers from Harrow will soon be able to receive a third ‘booster’ COVID-19 vaccine through a new clinical trial launching this week.
Vaccinations are set to start from the beginning of June.
The Cov-Boost study, backed by £19.3 million of government funding through the Vaccines Taskforce, will be open locally at Northwick Park Hospital, and is being led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
It will be the first in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses.
It will give scientists from around the world and the experts behind the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme a better idea of how effective a booster of each vaccine is in protecting the individual from the virus.
The initial findings, expected in September, will help inform decisions by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on any potential booster programme from autumn this year, ensuring the country’s most vulnerable are given the strongest possible protection over the winter period.
The trial will look at seven different COVID-19 vaccines as potential boosters, given at least 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose as part of the ongoing vaccination programme.
One booster will be provided to each volunteer and could be a different brand to the one they were originally vaccinated with. Vaccines being trialled include Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac, as well as a control group.
The trial has received ethics approval by the NHS Research Ethics Committee, as well as approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Participants will be adults aged 30 years or older and will include those immunised early on in the vaccination programme – for example, adults aged 75 and over or health and care workers.
The study will take place at 16 NIHR-supported sites across the UK, and will include a total of 2,886 patients. All participants will be monitored throughout the study for any potential side effects and will have bloods taken to measure their immune responses at days 28, 84, 308 and 365, with a small number having additional blood tests at other times. All sites will have an electronic diary for all participants that will send alerts to the team in real time if needed and a 24-hour emergency phone to a doctor on the study, who can provide further clinical advice.
All the trial sites are working on ways of including people in research from a wide variety of backgrounds and individuals from ethnic minorities are encouraged to apply.
The government is preparing for a potential booster programme based on clinical need and will publish further details in due course. The final policy will be informed by advice from the JCVI and take into account the results of clinical trials.
Dr Alastair McGregor, Principal Investigator of the study at Northwick Park Hospital, said: “I’m delighted that Northwick Park has been chosen as a site for COV-Boost. This important study will look at the effect of boosting people who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 with a variety of new and existing vaccines.
“The study will generate data that will inform vaccine policy going forward and is also an excellent opportunity for the people of northwest London to get involved in research and help bring the pandemic under control.”
If you would like more information, or to register to take part in the study, visit www.covboost.org.uk