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Study launches to assess if young people can have a lower Covid booster

by Jess Hacker
19 January 2022

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As many as 900 young people will receive a Covid-19 booster at a lower dose as part of a study to see if the cohort has a stronger immune response to vaccines than older adults.

The COV-BOOST study, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will assess if 18-to-30-year-olds can receive as little as a quarter of a standard dose.

Participants in the study – who must have already received their first course of Pfizer or Moderna – will be randomly selected to receive either:

  • One quarter of a single Moderna dose
  • One third of a Pfizer dose
  • A half Moderna dose
  • Or a single dose of Pfizer (the standard currently used in the booster programme).

Using lower doses would allow vaccine sites such as GP practices to share existing stock across a greater number of people.

Lower doses may also be linked with fewer side effects or lower rates of already rare adverse events, the research team at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said.

Professor Andrew Ustianowski, national clinical lead for the UK NIHR Covid Vaccine Research Programme, said the study would help find ‘more efficient ways to use vaccine supplies’.

Professor Saul Faust, chief investigator, said: ‘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.’

As of Tuesday (18 January), 36.5 million people had received a Covid-19 booster dose, with 136 million vaccine doses given in total.

The booster programme was extended this week to include 40,000 16 and 17-year-olds who received their second dose at least three months ago, and to at-risk 12 to 15-year-olds.