First participant at Royal Sussex County Hospital receives booster jab in world-leading trial

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More than a hundred volunteers will receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine at Royal Sussex County Hospital as part of the world-first clinical trial.

The Cov-Boost study will trial seven different potential “booster” vaccines and is the first in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses. It is led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and backed by £19.3 million of government funding through the Vaccines Taskforce.

The trial will give scientists from around the globe and the experts behind the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme a better idea of the impact of a booster dose of each vaccine in protecting individuals from the virus.

The trial launched in Bradford earlier this month, one of 18 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-supported sites across the UK to take part.

The initial findings, expected in September, will help inform decisions by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on plans for a booster programme from autumn this year, ensuring the country’s most vulnerable are given the strongest possible protection over the winter period.

Alan Street, who works at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, was the first person at the Trust to step forward and take his shot in the arm.

Afterwards, Alan said: “I feel honoured to have been the first person from this area to take part in this trial. Everything went well and the team here are just brilliant. I have had my two vaccines a while ago so this is my third and I didn’t even feel it. I am just proud to have taken part.”Alan, a Resuscitation Services Lead, has urged other volunteers to come forward and enrol in the trial.He said: “When I got a message on my phone about this study and asking to see if wanted to see if I was eligible to take part, I enrolled as soon as I could.

“If people have the chance to take part in a study which could help patients, staff, everyone, feel safer – then why not get involved? If people are fit and healthy and eligible, I would say, ‘Come and get the booster.’”

The trial will look at seven different COVID-19 vaccines as potential boosters, given at least 10 weeks after a second dose as part of the on-going 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 site in Brighton is looking to vaccinate 148 people. The study is open to those aged 30 years and over, who received their first COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020 or January 2021, and who have  also received their second dose booster. 

Professor Martin Llewelyn, Director of Research at UHSussex, said: “It is so exciting that locally people in Sussex can be involved in this really important trial…a trial that will help shape the UK’s booster vaccine campaign against COVID and protect all of us from any future wave.

“We have recruited a lot of people already but we are open to more people getting involved. So, if people are interested, please go on to the COV-BOOST website and register your interest to volunteer in this fantastic study.”