Shomporko Online News Desk: AstraZeneca has begun human trials of a new COVID-19 vaccine, this time targeting one of the COVID-19 variations, in collaboration with the University of Oxford.
The trial, which includes 2,250 volunteers from four nations, attempts to develop protection against the Beta strain of concern, which first appeared in South Africa. The study will also be used to better understand COVID-19 and its associated difficulties, according to the researchers.
“Testing booster doses of existing vaccines and new variant vaccines are important to ensure we are best prepared to stay ahead of the pandemic coronavirus, should their use be needed,” said Professor Sir Andrew J Pollard, chief investigator, and director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, in a press release.
The dose will be administered as a booster to people who were previously fully vaccinated with either the original AstraZeneca vaccine or an mRNA jab — provided it’s been at least three months since their last shot.
The new vaccine will also be administered in a two-dose regimen in unvaccinated individuals, and as a second shot for those who have already received a dose of the original AstraZeneca jab.
Data from the trial is expected later this year, the press release said.
South Africa paused its use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after early results showed the jab was less effective against the Beta variant, which had become the dominant variant in the country. That variant has also been found in the U.K., where the AstraZeneca vaccine has served as a crown jewel in the vaccine rollout.
Britain had already entered into talks with AstraZeneca in early June to purchase doses of this new COVID-19 vaccine — once it’s been modified to better target the Beta variant, according to the health minister Matt Hancock.
The press release announcing the human trials said Sunday that once the study is finished, the jab will be submitted to regulators as a “next-generation booster vaccine” using an expedited regulatory pathway.
Because the study will be administering the shot to those previously fully vaccinated using an mRNA vaccine, the research could also help scientists to further understand the effects of mixing mRNA vaccine doses with AstraZeneca, which is an adenovirus-based vaccine.
Early research from Europe has indicated that mixing doses of COVID-19 vaccines is safe and effective.
According to preliminary findings published on May 12 by the University of Oxford, mixing the Pfizer-BioNtech and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines may increase the frequency of mild to moderate adverse effects. These symptoms, however, were only temporary, lasting only a few days, and there were no hospitalizations or other safety issues.
Meanwhile, a Spanish trial published on May 18 found that when participants who had already gotten an AstraZeneca vaccine were given the Pfizer dose, the presence of neutralizing antibodies increased sevenfold, substantially higher than the doubling impact seen following a second AstraZeneca shot.