Participants in [a] 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.
“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 [England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan] Van-Tam.