UCLH to test a vaccine designed to protect against Beta variant of coronavirus

A trial of a new version of the AstraZeneca vaccine is to start at UCLH to see if it is effective against the Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa.

UCLH is one of several sites to trial the new version of the AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 vaccine, known as AZD2816. AZD2816 was developed in response to concerns that existing vaccines may not be as effective against the new variant first identified in South Africa (called the Beta variant under the WHO classification system) as it is against other variants. One study showed AZD1222 may not work as well in protecting people against the Beta variant.

AZD2816, like AZD1222, is a modified form of the virus that cannot cause Covid-19. It works by presenting parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the body to stimulate the immune system so that if the body later encounters the virus, it has been prepared to defend itself from infection.

Professor Vincenzo Libri is principal investigator of the study at UCLH, where the trial will be conducted at the UCLH Vaccine Research Centre, part of the NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility, with the support of the NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre.

Prof Libri said: “It is vital that vaccine research and development keeps pace with the evolution of the virus and the appearance of new variants, so that we can continue to offer sufficient protection to our populations.”

Researchers will look at the safety and effectiveness of the new vaccine given as two different treatments: as a single dose booster vaccination in participants that have already received 2 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine; and as a two-dose vaccination in participants that have not previously received any vaccine.

The study will compare the effectiveness of the vaccine in comparison with the existing, approved AstraZeneca vaccine. Study participants will be 30 years old or older, and researchers plan to look at the effects of the two dosing schedules mainly in people who have not been infected with SARS-CoV-2 previously.

Those interested in finding out more about the study can visit https://www.c19vaccinestudy.com/#!/.

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