The UK to lead world first COVID booster study

Volunteers are now encouraged to sign up for the world’s first COVID booster trial, which was announced by the government last week.

The Cov-Boost study will be led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and has been supported by £19.3m worth of funding by the Vaccine Taskforce, and trials are to take place across the UK, at 18 National Institute for Health Research sites in England. The trial will also extend to Scotland and Wales and will be supported by Health and Care Research Wales and NHS Research Scotland sites respectively.  

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, 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.” 

A total of 2,886 patients will participate in the clinical trial with the first vaccinations taking place in June. All participants will be monitored closely throughout to see if any side effects occur. Bloods will also be taken at 28, 84, 308 and 365 days, with a group within the overall sample size having their blood tested at other times.  

All research sites will have access to an electronic diary that will send alerts to clinicians, in real time and a 24-hour phone line to a doctor, if further advice is needed. 

The initial results of the study will be published in September and will help inform the guidance put forward by Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to help protect the population from covid this winter.   

The seven vaccines being trialed as boosters include Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac, as well as a control group. The trial was granted ethics approval by the NHS Research Ethics Committee, as well as approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 

Participants who are 30 and over, and who have received both injections, are elgible for the study, which will take place in the sites listed below.  

  • Southampton 
  • London (3 sites – University College Hospital, Guys and St Thomas Hospital, and Northwick Park Harrow) 
  • Leicester 
  • Bournemouth 
  • Portsmouth 
  • Wrexham (Wales) 
  • Bradford 
  • Oxford 
  • Glasgow 
  • Leeds 
  • Cambridge 
  • Birmingham 
  • Brighton 
  • Stockport 
  • Liverpool 
  • Exeter 

Professor Andrew Ustianowski, National Clinical Lead for the UK NIHR COVID-19 Vaccine Research, Programme said: “Throughout the pandemic, the National Institute for Health Research, the NHS and all of our research partners have helped to rollout vital studies to help us learn how to treat COVID-19 and develop effective vaccines. The Cov-Boost study marks the next step forward in our efforts of understanding how to best protect the population and inform future vaccine booster programmes.”