The University of Oxford announced Thursday that it is launching a study to determine whether combining two doses of different vaccines in the same patient remains effective in protecting the population against the coronavirus.
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“If we show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably, it will greatly increase the flexibility of their distribution,” Professor Matthew Snape, Oxford researcher responsible for the trial, said in a statement.
This study, presented as a world first, will involve 820 volunteers over 50 years old, will focus on the combination of the two vaccines currently used on British territory, that of the Pfizer / BioNTech alliance and that of AstraZeneca / Oxford.
It will also evaluate the effectiveness of the protection according to the spacing of the two injections, testing an interval of four weeks, close to that initially recommended, and an interval of twelve weeks retained by the British authorities to reach more people.
Country in Europe most affected by the pandemic with more than 108,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has made vaccination a national cause to get out of the health crisis, facing a new more contagious variant that has forced it to adopt at the beginning of January a third confinement.
The deputy chief medical officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam stressed the interest of “having data which could support a more flexible vaccination program”, in particular because of “constraints linked to the supply”.
“It is even possible that by combining the vaccines, the immune response is better, with higher levels of antibodies and which last longer,” he said.
The first Western country to start its campaign, the UK has so far vaccinated more than 10 million people, and is targeting 15 million people by mid-February, including those over 70, caregivers and those most at risk.