Oxford University is planning to hold trials to determine if different COVID-19 vaccines can be used in combination to produce “enhanced” protection, the British university said Thursday.
Using a UK government grant of almost $10 million, the study will alternate Oxford’s own vaccine with the Pfizer one, with one as the initial shot and the other as a “booster.”
If effective, the “more flexible immunization program” would at the very least help “potential global supply constraints,” British Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said.
Van-Tam predicted that it is “even possible that by combining vaccines, the immune response could be enhanced giving even higher antibody levels that last longer.”
Oxford professor Matthew Snape, who is leading the study, suggested it could also “provide clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains” that are sweeping the world.
The so-called “Com-Cov” study is recruiting 800 volunteers aged 50 and will take 13 months, Oxford University said.
It will compare various combinations, some getting the Oxford-AstraZeneca first, others the Pfizer one, and some getting traditional double doses of each, the university said.
A dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is prepared by a member of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service at Basingstoke fire station on February 4, 2021.Andrew Matthews – WPA Pool/Getty Images
It will also examine different dosing schedules, with a four-week gap between each shot and another at 12 weeks, which the UK currently follows.
“If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery,” Snape said.