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Will a third vaccine dose help protect against variants?

Trials will soon commence testing whether a third Covid vaccine dose provides increased protection against new variants of the virus. The trial comes as surge testing continues in some parts of the country to try and contain the Indian Covid variant. Health officials also want to determine whether a "booster" vaccination ahead of the winter will be necessary.

Reno Charlton
· 3 min read

Trials that will see people receive a third Covid jab to determine whether this might lead to greater protection against Covid variants will soon occur. With concerns over the Indian variant rising, officials are keen to take any necessary steps to provide increased protection to the population.

Members of the public are being encouraged to participate in the trials, which will see all seven of the vaccines ordered by the UK government tested on eligible participants. During the trial, health authorities will gather data regarding side effects and immune responses to determine whether this could be an effective solution to combatting Covid variants. It will also help officials determine whether some people will need to be re-vaccinated in the autumn.

Millions have already received their vaccinations

The vaccination programme in the UK has run pretty smoothly since it began at the end of last year and really kicked into gear from mid-January onwards. To date, more than 20 million have received both doses of one of the vaccines. However, experts are still unsure how long antibodies created by the vaccines will last.

The new trial will begin next month. Around 3,000 eligible people who received their first vaccine dose before the end of January will be recruited to take part.

Discussing the potential for using “booster” vaccines, the professor heading up the trial, Saul Faust from the University of Southampton, said, "It could be that some age groups may not need a booster and others do. We are not trying to say one is better than the other. The aim is to find out whether there should be a booster campaign and which vaccine to use."

According to details revealed so far, the trial will occur at 18 sites around the country and involve testing both half and full doses.

Logging side-effects after the third dose

While experts are not expecting any of the vaccines to cause significant issues, there is a risk of high fevers and sore arms, among other things. The trial will also enable experts to look at what the side-effects are.

Those taking part in the trial will be asked to log any side effects they experience after their third dose. In addition, they will be monitored by researchers at intervals of one, three, and twelve months to look at immune systems responses.

While the third dose could involve any one of the seven vaccines ordered by the UK government, it will not involve the use of any newly developed vaccines, such as those being developed with specific variants in mind.

Among the vaccines that may be administered to those taking place in the trials are the well-known Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna vaccines, and the lesser-known Novavax, Janssen, Valneva, and CureVac vaccines. The latter four are being trialled at present but are yet to receive UK approval.

Reno Charlton

Reno Charlton

Reno Charlton has been writing since 2003. She has worked with a diverse client base around the world, across a variety of subjects and industry areas, specialising in lifestyle and health & wellbeing niches. In addition to her online work, Reno is also a published author and has written several children's books and short stories.