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Volunteers needed for lower dose COVID-19 vaccine booster study launching in Dorset

lower dose booster vaccine study dorset

Volunteers are needed for the latest COVID-19 vaccine booster study, launching in Bournemouth today. 

The COV-BOOST: Young Adults Fractional Dosing Sub-study will run at the Dorset Research Hub, part of University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust. 

The study is looking at the use of different COVID-19 vaccines and doses for giving a third dose in young adults. 

The NIHR-supported study, which is led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, is looking for local volunteers who:

  • are between 18 to 30 years old
  • have had two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, with at least 3 months (84 days) since their second dose
  • have not received a booster

The study is open to those who have previously tested positive for COVID-19, as well as those who have not tested positive for COVID-19 before.

Anyone interested in finding out more or taking part in the study can visit the COV-BOOST website, where they can complete the study questionnaire to see if they are eligible. 

Participants will be reimbursed up to £225 for their time, inconvenience and travel, with boosters given in February.

Young adults have a stronger immune response to vaccines than older adults, and results from COVID-19 vaccine studies have suggested that lower doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may give as good an immune response in young adults as higher doses. Lower doses may also be linked with fewer side effects or lower rates of already rare adverse events.

Using lower doses could allow existing stocks of vaccines to be given to more people, which is important while the need for vaccines is greater than the number of doses available globally.

Participants on the study will be randomly selected to receive one of the following doses:

  • A single dose of Pfizer (currently used in the UK booster programme)
  • One third of a single Pfizer dose (currently recommended for 5 - 11 years old in the UK)
  • A half Moderna dose (the dosage used by the NHS as a 3rd dose booster)
  • One quarter of a single Moderna dose

The study will take place at 15 hospitals across England, Wales and Scotland, and will include a total of over 900 participants. All participants will be monitored throughout the study for any potential side effects and will have bloods taken to measure their immune responses on the day of their first visit and then two weeks, one month, three months and eight months following vaccination.

All the trial sites are working on ways of including people in research from a wide variety of backgrounds and individuals from ethnic minorities are encouraged to apply.

Professor Saul Faust, Chief Investigator and Director of NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, said:

“The first phase of the COV-BOOST study looked at the safety, immune responses and side-effects of seven COVID-19 vaccines when used as a third booster jab. The findings have helped shape the UK booster programme and given important evidence towards global vaccination efforts.

“In this next phase, we are looking for volunteers aged 18 to 30 to help us investigate the safety and side effect profile of giving lower doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. 

“If we find that giving a lower dose of these vaccines to young adults gives as good an immune response as a higher dose, this could have positive implications for global vaccine supply and may result in a lower side effect profile in this age group. 

“Our vital COVID-19 vaccine research would not be possible without support from the public, who continue to step forward to take part in our studies. We need young adults from all backgrounds to take part in this new study and I would encourage anyone interested to visit the COV-BOOST website to find out more and sign up.”

Dr Patrick Moore, Dorset GP and local investigator of the study, added: 

"We’re proud to have supported the first phase of the COV-BOOST study, which informed the UK’s booster vaccination programme, and want to thank all our research participants for taking part.  

"The opening of the next phase of the COV-BOOST study at the Dorset Research Hub provides another exciting opportunity for our local community to be part of the research response to the pandemic.

"We’re looking for young adults aged 18-30 and living in and around Bournemouth and Poole to join the study. If you’re interested in finding out more and would like to check if you’re eligible to take part, please visit the COV-BOOST website.”

Professor Andrew Ustianowski, National Clinical Lead for the UK NIHR COVID Vaccine Research Programme, said:

"The COV-BOOST study has already provided the UK and other countries with extremely valuable data when it comes to understanding how we can boost populations and protect them against COVID-19. The latest phase of the study could also prove very useful and help identify if lower doses can be as effective whilst having other specific advantages.

"We cannot thank participants enough for their commitment to COVID-19 vaccine studies and encourage those who have not yet received a booster to sign up for this study. The UK research community and public have played a huge role working with the NHS and NIHR supported teams to identify several important COVID-19 treatments and vaccines over the last two years. This latest booster sub-study can build upon our strong vaccine data and likely help us find more efficient ways to use vaccine supplies."

The COV-BOOST study published its full initial results in the Lancet in December 2021, which found several COVID-19 vaccines were safe and boosted immunity, and its early findings in September 2021 informed the UK’s booster programme.