UK adds COVID-19 vaccines from two more companies to ‘mix and match’ trial
As countries all over the globe are racing to vaccinate citizens against the deadly coronavirus, researchers in London are trying a new idea.
The University of Oxford has launched a so-called Com-Cov study to assess the benefits of mixing and matching coronavirus vaccines. Experts have now decided to include Moderna and Novavax vaccines in this study now.
Since February, experts have been studying the immune response on volunteers if they are inoculated with the first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca and the second dose of Pfizer vaccine, and vice versa.
Now, the expanded study is set to recruit new volunteers over the age of 50 who have been inoculated with the first dose of vaccine in the past eight to 12 weeks, who will now be inoculated with the second dose of some other vaccine.
"The focus of both this and the original Com-Cov study is to explore whether the multiple COVID-19 vaccines that are available can be used more flexibly, with different vaccines being used for the first and second dose," said Matthew Snape, associate professor in pediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford and chief investigator on the trial.
"If we can show that these mixed schedules generate an immune response that is as good as the standard schedules, and without a significant increase in the vaccine reactions, this will potentially allow more people to complete their COVID-19 immunisation course more rapidly. This would also create resilience within the system in the event of a shortfall in the availability of any of the vaccines in use."
The study aims to prove that mixing is not worse than not mixing. However, it does not aim to prove if the vaccines are effective at preventing diseases.
"The purpose of this trial is to see how well people’s immune systems respond when their second ‘boost’ dose is a different type of vaccine to their first 'prime' dose," the study reads.
"We will also be looking at how common vaccine reactions, such as fever, are after such ‘mixed’ schedules. This is important, as being able to use different vaccines in this way creates a more flexible immunisation programme; potentially allowing more people to be immunised more quickly."