Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock (REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool).

The UK will spend £19.3m to trial seven vaccines for a third Covid-19 vaccine booster dose, the government announced on Wednesday (May 19).

The project will be the first in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses.

The Cov-Boost study, led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and backed by government funding through the Vaccines Taskforce, will trial seven vaccines and will be the first in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses.

“The study will take place at 16 NIHR-supported sites across England, and also within Health and Care Research Wales and NHS Research Scotland sites. It will include a total of 2,886 patients and participants are to begin being vaccinated from early June,” the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) said.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “The UK vaccination programme has been a phenomenal national effort, with seven in 10 UK adults now having had their first COVID-19 jab. It is vital that we continue to support the world-renowned British research sector that has contributed to its success.

“We will do everything we can to future-proof this country from pandemics and other threats to our health security, and the data from this world-first clinical trial will help shape the plans for our booster programme later this year.

“I urge everyone who has had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and is eligible, to sign up for this study and play a part in protecting the most vulnerable people in this country and around the world for months and years to come.”

The trial will look at seven different Covid-19 vaccines as potential boosters, given at least 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose as part of the ongoing vaccination programme. One booster will be provided to each volunteer and could be a different brand to the one they were originally vaccinated with.

Vaccines being trialled include Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac, as well as a control group.

The trial has received ethics approval by the NHS Research Ethics Committee, as well as approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The study will open for applications from volunteers shortly via the study’s website and will be recruiting participants through the NHS Covid-19 Vaccine Research Registry.

Participants will be adults aged 30 years or older as these will have been those immunised early on in the vaccination programme – for example, adults aged 75 and over or health and care workers.

Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi said: “With over 57 million vaccines administered since the beginning of the rollout, the programme continues its fantastic trajectory.

“Having taken part in a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial myself, I would encourage everyone eligible to volunteer – whatever your religion, ethnicity or background, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get involved with such an historic initiative.”

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