Cambridge begins world-first COVID-19 vaccine booster study

Researchers in Cambridge have welcomed their first participants in a new UK study to understand the effects of a ‘booster’ dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Cov-Boost study, a world-first clinical trial, offers individuals a chance to have a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to see whether such a booster dose can better protect against the virus.

This Government-funded trial, led by the University of Southampton, has now opened a site at the National institute for Health Research (NIHR) Cambridge Clinical Research Facility at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH).   

It is the first study 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 trial will look at seven different COVID-19 vaccines (including the Pfizer/BioNTech, and Valneva 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 participant and could be a different brand to the one they were originally vaccinated with.

Researchers at the NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility will see more than 180 participants from the Cambridgeshire area take part. Volunteers will be aged 30 years or older and will have already received their full COVID-19 immunisation.

On arrival, participants will be fully informed about the study. If they agree to take part they will be randomly allocated to receive one of several different COVID-19 vaccines or a placebo vaccine. After the booster, the study will monitor any reaction and also measure the immune response to vaccination over the next year.

Professor Krishna Chatterjee, Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility in Cambridge, who is leading the trial at CUH, said on the day of opening:

Prof. Krishna Chatterjee

“We are delighted to support this study here in Cambridge. We have conducted trials of several COVID-19 vaccine studies over the last year. It’s an exciting opportunity to now work on a study to determine the effects of a third ‘booster’ dose of vaccines and I want to thank both the trial participants and our staff who are helping with this important research.”

All the data will be analysed with initial results expected in September. This 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.

Volunteering for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

People wishing to volunteer to support clinical trials can sign up for information on Covid-19 vaccine trials with the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry, developed in partnership with NHS Digital. It is helping large numbers of people to be recruited into trials, meaning more effective vaccines for coronavirus can be found as soon as possible.

The service was commissioned as part of the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce in conjunction with the NIHR and the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Governments. Anyone living in the UK can sign up online to take part in the trials through the NHS, giving permission for researchers to contact you if they think you’re a good fit.  Once you sign up, you can withdraw at any time and request that your details be removed from the COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry.  The process takes about 5 minutes to complete

Peter Cov-Boost trial at CRF
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