Thousands to get third Covid-19 jab in new 'Cov-Boost' trial, Matt Hancock announces

19 May 2021, 17:12 | Updated: 19 May 2021, 19:49

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Thousands of volunteers will receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine in a "world-first" trial launching today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The £19 million Cov-Boost study, led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, will trial seven vaccines to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose.

At a Downing Street press conference, the Health Secretary confirmed the trial will take place at 16 sites across England and aims to give scientists a better idea of the impact boosters of each vaccine will have on the virus.

The 2,886 patients and participants will begin being vaccinated from early June, given at least 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose.

The third jab could be a different brand to the one they were originally vaccinated with, Mr Hancock confirmed.

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He said: "The UK vaccination programme has been a phenomenal national effort, with seven in 10 UK adults now having had their first COVID-19 jab.

"It is vital that we continue to support the world-renowned British research sector that has contributed to its success.

"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."

Thousands of people will get a booster Covid-19 jab in the coming months as part of a trial
Thousands of people will get a booster Covid-19 jab in the coming months as part of a trial. Picture: PA Images

Vaccines being trialled include Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac, as well as a control group.

The study will open for applications from volunteers shortly via the study’s website and will be recruiting participants through the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry.

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The initial findings are expected to be published in September and will help inform decisions on plans for a booster programme in autumn.

All participants will be monitored for side effects and will have blood 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 participants to 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 advice.

The UK’s vaccination rollout has delivered almost 58 million vaccinations administered in total – 36.9 million first doses and 20.8 million second doses.

It follows the announcement of the ComCov clinical trial earlier this year, which will study the effects of using different vaccines for the first and second dose.

Initial data from the trial has shown that mixing the doses slightly increases the frequency of mild-to-moderate symptoms but does not increase the likelihood of serious illness.