Covid vaccine latest: UK mix-and-match vaccines trial may mean ‘more efficient’ deployment

Nadhim Zahawi says there are 4,000 coronavirus variants

The study, backed by £7 million of government funding, will be the first in the world to determine the effects of using different COVID-19 vaccines for the first and second dose – for example, using Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s vaccine for the first dose, followed by Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine for the second.

The study, run by the National Immunisation Schedule Evaluation Consortium (NISEC) across 8 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) supported sites, will also gather immunological evidence on different intervals between the first and second dose for a mixed-vaccine regimen against control groups when the same vaccine is used for both doses.

Anyone who has received either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccination as part of the UK-wide delivery plan will not be affected by this study.

They will receive their second dose from the same source and over the same 12-week interval.

The 13-month study will monitor the impact of the different dosing regimens on patients’ immune responses, which have the potential to be higher or lower than from the same dose regimen.

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“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.”

The study will initially have 8 different arms testing 8 different combinations, but more products may be added. The 8 arms include:

  • 2 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at 28 days apart
  • 2 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at 12 weeks apart – as a control group
  • 2 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at 28 days apart
  • 2 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at 12 weeks apart – as a control group
  • the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for the first dose, followed by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the second, at 28 days apart
  • the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for the first dose, followed by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the second, at 12 weeks apart
  • the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the first dose, followed by the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for the second, at 28 days apart
  • the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the first dose, followed by the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for the second, at 12 weeks apart

Over 800 patients are expected to take part in the study, referred to as the COVID-19 Heterologous Prime Boost study or ‘Com-Cov’, across eight different sites across England – including in London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

Patients will be recruited over the course of February via the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry, with vaccinations expected to start towards the middle of the month and initial results to be made available over the summer period.

The UK public can volunteer to be contacted about taking part in the study and further vaccine studies by joining the registry.

The study has been classified as an Urgent Public Health study by the NIHR and is being undertaken by NISEC and the Oxford Vaccine Group, with funding of £7 million from the government through the Vaccines Taskforce.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, minister for a Covid Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi said the launch of the new study means the UK remains at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccine and research overall.

He assured viewers this kind of trial has historically been done on other vaccines, including hepatitis vaccine.

Zahawi continued: “It won’t impact our deployment programme. If you’ve had your Pfizer vaccine you’ll have your next vaccine within 12 weeks…

“It’s a look at how we can be more efficient in the UK.”

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