Can you mix vaccines? UK trial aims to find out

UK scientists have launched the world's first study examining whether different...

Posted: Feb 4, 2021 10:12 AM
Updated: Feb 4, 2021 1:00 PM

UK scientists have launched the world's first study examining whether different coronavirus vaccines can safely be used for two-dose regimens, an approach they say could give extra flexibility and even boost protection against Covid-19 if approved.

Participants in the 13-month study will be given the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines in different combinations and at different intervals, the UK Department of Health and Social Care said in a news release.

'If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery, and could provide clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains,' said Matthew Snape, chief investigator and associate professor in pediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford.

Enrollment in the UK government-funded study is currently underway and preliminary results are expected over the summer, the news release said.

The current vaccine dosing regimen for the general public will remain unchanged in the UK, it said. But should the study show promising results, the government may consider revising the recommended vaccine regimen.

The study will also seek to determine if vaccination is more effective with a four-week or 12-week gap between the two doses. More than 800 people are expected to take part in the trial and will begin receiving their shots by mid-February.

Analysis released Wednesday by Oxford scientists but not yet peer reviewed suggested there could be higher efficacy with more spaced-out doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi said the new trial would provide vital evidence on the safety of the two shots 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,' he said.

Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, said that given the challenges of rolling out mass vaccination of populations and 'potential global supply constraints,' there were advantages to having data to support a more flexible immunization program, if needed and approved by the 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,' said Van-Tam.

Currently, official guidance from the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation states that the second dose should be with the same vaccine as for the first dose. 'Switching between vaccines or missing the second dose is not advised as this may affect the duration of protection,' it adds.

However, in certain circumstances where a patient attends a site for a second vaccination and what was given for the first dose is either unknown or unavailable, it is 'reasonable to offer one dose of the locally available product to complete the schedule,' guidance states, particularly if the individual is at high risk of infection or is unlikely to attend again.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization do not currently recommend interchanging coronavirus vaccines, since no data is currently available that examines whether doing so would still provide the same level of protection.

Successful vaccination rollout

The UK has been one of the world's worst-hit nations during the pandemic, with among the highest confirmed Covid-19 deaths proportionate to its population.

It has, however, shown global leadership by launching a successful vaccination program, becoming the first country to approve and administer a clinically tested vaccine. More than 10 million people in the UK, around 15% of the population, have received at least one dose to date.

The UK aims to have offered everyone in the four groups identified as most vulnerable -- including all those over 70 and frontline health and social care workers -- a first vaccine dose by mid-February. And Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this month that vaccines would be offered to every adult in the UK 'by the autumn.'

Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout is picking up pace in the United States, the country that has seen the highest number of cases and deaths from Covid-19 worldwide.

Nearly 34 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered so far in the US, according to data published Wednesday by the CDC. That means just over 8% of the US population -- more than 27 million people -- have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 6.4 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

At the current rate, every adult in the US could be fully vaccinated in about a year. Assuming 75% of US adults must be fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, the US could reach this threshold by around Halloween.

Israel, with a population of about nine million, has led the world with its vaccination program.

All Israelis aged 16 and over are now eligible immediately to receive a coronavirus vaccine, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Thursday. 'Come in your masses. Take advantage of a situation which exists in almost no other country in the world. This is the only way we will beat corona -- together,' the minister said in a statement.

Health Ministry figures show that 3.3 million people have received a first dose, of whom more than 1.9 million have also received their second shot.

Other countries are struggling to overcome problems with vaccine supply and distribution. Last week, a war of words erupted between the European Union and AstraZeneca after EU officials said they had been told by the company that it intended to supply 'considerably fewer' doses in the coming weeks than had been agreed because of production problems.

And South America accounts for roughly 15% of the world's reported Covid-19 cases, but less than 3% of the global vaccine doses administered so far, according to data collected by Oxford University.

About 70% of the total coronavirus vaccine doses administrated globally have been in the 50 wealthiest countries, while only 0.1% of them have been administrated in the 50 poorest countries, according to analysis by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The IFRC described the disparity as alarming and said it could result in 'deadly and devastating' consequences, warning that if large areas across the globe remain unvaccinated, the virus will carry on circulating and mutating.

Data questions over AstraZeneca vaccine

As vaccination programs in Europe gather momentum, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, France, Austria and Germany have all decided against recommending use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 65 due to a lack of data on that age group.

On Wednesday, Belgium recommended not administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to people over the age of 55, citing a lack of sufficient data.

On the same day, Switzerland declined to authorize the vaccine for any age group, saying data submitted by AstraZeneca was 'not yet sufficient to permit authorization' of the vaccine.

In response to Switzerland's decision, an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in a statement: 'AstraZeneca has now been granted a conditional marketing authorisation or emergency use in close to 50 countries, spanning four continents, including most recently in the European Union.'

'We are confident that our vaccine is effective, well-tolerated, and can have a real impact on the pandemic,' the statement added.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) -- the EU's regulator -- recommended authorizing the vaccine for use among the 27 member states without an age restriction.

In a statement made when granting conditional marketing authorization of the vaccine, the EMA said that in spite of a lack of data, protection was expected in older adults.

Meanwhile, Denmark plans to introduce a digital vaccine passport in an effort to reopen society, help businesses and ease travel, the government announced Wednesday in partnership with Danish businesses.

The scheme would initially apply to business travelers and could eventually enable all Danes to go to restaurants, conferences, music festivals and sporting events -- all of which have been restricted since a nationwide lockdown was imposed on December 15, a measure due to last until February 28.

The government hopes that by the end of February, citizens will be able to prove they have received a Covid-19 vaccination as it will be registered online.

Pandemic handling judged

A new poll from the Pew Research Center, conducted in November and December, finds widely differing views in the four nations surveyed -- the United States, Germany, France and the UK -- about their own country's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Just 41% of Americans approve of how their country is handling the pandemic, a new survey from the Pew Research Center finds. Asked simply whether the country is doing a bad or a good job, 58% of those polled came down in the 'bad' category.

Meanwhile, Germans overwhelmingly approve of their country's handling of the pandemic, with 77% rating it as 'good.' In France, 54% of those polled approve of their country's handling and in the UK, 48% did.

The survey of 4,000 adults across the four countries also found that 74% of Americans say the pandemic is affecting their everyday lives a great deal or a fair amount, up from 67% in June.

'Only in Germany do fewer than half of those surveyed say the coronavirus has changed their life, while 52% say their life has not changed much or not changed at all,' Pew said.

But people in all four countries are optimistic about future pandemics. In the US, 67% say they feel optimistic about the country's ability to handle future crises. In Germany, 77% do, while in the UK that figure stands at 68% and in France at 60%.

Terre Haute
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Robinson
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 69°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
Rockville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Casey
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 72°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Marshall
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 71°
A Breezy, Mild Night
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1612129

Reported Deaths: 27216
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook61543610987
DuPage1042681360
Will876561092
Lake773641061
Kane66108852
Winnebago39170545
Madison38345578
St. Clair35140571
McHenry33177317
Peoria26076363
Champaign25967184
Sangamon24718273
McLean22003208
Tazewell19833326
Rock Island17919348
Kankakee16856235
Kendall15537107
Macon14565244
LaSalle14539278
Vermilion13343190
Adams12733148
DeKalb11729129
Williamson11528160
Whiteside7944176
Jackson774389
Boone762782
Coles7404113
Ogle718087
Grundy704582
Franklin693999
Clinton683798
Knox6715166
Marion6581138
Macoupin6525100
Henry625674
Effingham612882
Jefferson6116132
Livingston574196
Woodford556191
Stephenson549789
Randolph532197
Monroe510199
Christian496380
Fulton491570
Morgan488996
Logan478474
Montgomery470476
Lee460658
Bureau429188
Perry416671
Saline414064
Fayette403459
Iroquois396973
McDonough356656
Jersey324253
Shelby317343
Crawford307930
Douglas307636
Lawrence303431
Union297347
Wayne276057
White267730
Richland264455
Hancock258834
Pike258056
Clark253538
Cass252228
Bond244824
Clay242247
Edgar237545
Ford235956
Warren227161
Carroll226537
Johnson214925
Moultrie212931
Jo Daviess207226
Washington206627
Wabash202616
Greene200939
Mason200351
Massac200144
De Witt196830
Piatt192114
Mercer191234
Cumberland179825
Menard160812
Jasper153418
Marshall135621
Hamilton129821
Brown10228
Pulaski99211
Schuyler9748
Edwards96815
Stark77227
Gallatin7557
Scott6975
Alexander68111
Henderson66114
Calhoun6452
Hardin56414
Putnam5464
Pope4945
Unassigned1812432
Out of IL60

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482