A new Government-funded study is being launched in the UK to determine whether using different coronavirus vaccines for the first and second dose is safe and effective.
The research, which has received £7million in funding, will be the first to determine the effects of using different vaccines together to protect against Covid-19.
The study, dubbed Com-Cov, will initially look at mixing doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines but researchers said more vaccines will be added to the list.
The study will initially include test eight different combinations, which include dosing regimens that are either 12 weeks apart or 28 days apart.
Deputy chief medical officer and senior responsible officer for the study, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said: “Given the inevitable challenges of immunising large numbers of the population against Covid-19 and potential global supply constraints, there are definite advantages to having data that could support a more flexible immunisation programme, if needed and if approved by the medicines regulator.
“It is also even possible that by combining vaccines, the immune response could be enhanced giving even higher antibody levels that last longer; unless this is evaluated in a clinical trial we just won’t know.
“This study will give us greater insight into how we can use vaccines to stay on top of this nasty disease.”
Those aged 50 and over are being called on to take part in the research, with over 800 patients expected to take part.
They will be recruited over the course of February through the NHS Covid-19 Vaccine Research Registry, with initial results expected to become available during the summer.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “This is a hugely important clinical trial that will provide us with more vital evidence on the safety of these vaccines when used in different ways.
“Nothing will be approved for use more widely than the study, or as part of our vaccine deployment programme, until researchers and the regulator are absolutely confident the approach is safe and effective.
“This is another great step forwards for British science, expertise and innovation, backed by Government funding – and I look forward to seeing what it produces.”
The study is being run by the National Immunisation Schedule Evaluation Consortium (NISEC) across eight different sites across England – in the likes of London, Oxford, Southampton, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and Liverpool.