Moderna launches UK study for new Omicron vaccine

The study will give half of the volunteers the new Omicron vaccine and the other half the regular Moderna shot

A syringe with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. AFP
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About 3,000 British volunteers are being sought to take part in a study for Moderna’s Omicron booster vaccine.

The vaccine, which is one of the world’s first to tackle the variant, will be tested at various sites across the UK as part of a partnership between Moderna and the National Institute for Health Research.

Led by a team based at St George’s, University of London, the study will see half of the volunteers receive the new Moderna Omicron variant vaccine and the other half vaccinated with the regular Moderna shot.

It is already known that immunity wanes several months after Covid-19 booster doses, meaning clinical trials are needed to determine whether people may need a fourth dose.

The new trial will also seek to recruit people who have had only two doses of a vaccine and have not yet had a booster.

A separate COV-Boost sub-study will also run to compare Moderna’s Omicron variant vaccine as a fourth dose with a standard dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech inoculation.

“The UK is a world leader when it comes to the research and development of vaccines and medicines, bolstered by our renowned life-sciences industry," said the Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid.

“It’s fantastic to see these capabilities being put to good use, with almost 3,000 people expected to take part in this important clinical trial. I want this country to be the best place in the world to launch clinical trials.

“I urge anyone eligible to take part in this vital research and play their part in protecting the country for years to come as we learn to live with Covid-19.”

Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, said: “The UK and NIHR have been pioneering in their work to study vaccines and therapeutics throughout the global pandemic and have built up world-class clinical research capabilities.

“This is the first Moderna-sponsored Phase 3 study to be conducted outside of the US with our Omicron-specific booster candidate and we appreciate the collaboration with the NIHR.

“We thank the clinical trial teams and the participants in the study for helping to advance our understanding of this booster candidate.”

Volunteers must not have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of November 2021, and must have had their last vaccine at least three months before joining the study, which is recruiting for the next four weeks.

The study will take place at up to 29 research sites across England, Wales and Scotland, with the trial lasting up to 13 months.

Updated: February 16, 2022, 12:01 AM