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AstraZeneca tests Covid booster shots against Beta-variant

Image source: AP

AstraZeneca testing beta Covid booster vaccines (representative image)

British-Swedish biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has partnered with the University of Oxford to launch human trials of booster shots against the beta-Covid variant.

The booster vaccine, called AZD2816, will be given to individuals who have previously been fully vaccinated with two doses of AstraZeneca / Vaxzervia vaccine or mRNA vaccine at least three months after their last injection.

In unvaccinated people, AZD2816 will be given in two doses four or twelve weeks apart, or as a second dose after the first dose of AstraZeneca / Vaxzervia vaccine – four weeks apart, the company said in a statement Sunday.

AZD2816 was developed using the same adenoviral vector platform as the AstraZeneca / Vaxzervia vaccine, with minor genetic changes in the spike protein based on a beta variant (B1351) first identified in South Africa.

The study aims to recruit 2,250 participants from the UK, South Africa, Brazil and Poland to build immunity against the beta-Covid variant.

“Testing booster doses of existing vaccines and new variant vaccines is important to ensure that we are better prepared to stay ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, should they be needed,” said Professor Sir Andrew J. Pollard, Principal Investigator and Director of Oxford Vaccine. Group, in a statement.

The first trial data is expected later this year, and as soon as it becomes available, it will be presented to regulators for evaluation as a next generation booster vaccine and as part of an accelerated regulatory process.

The beta vaccine contains 10 changes in the spike protein, many of which are also seen in other variants of concern and result in effects such as reducing the ability of antibodies raised against the parent virus to block cell entry (K417N, E484K, N501Y ), increased infectivity compared to the original virus (D614G), reduced sensitivity of neutralizing antibodies to the original virus (L452R), ”the company said.

Apart from these minor modifications, the two vaccines AZD2816 and AstraZeneca / Vaxzervia are identical, he notes.

A clinical trial began in May in the UK to evaluate the effectiveness of a third “booster” dose of seven different Covid-19 vaccines – Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac. on the immune responses of patients.

It is worth £ 19.3 million and is funded by the UK government and led by the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that there is currently no evidence to support booster vaccination of the Covid-19 vaccine for the general population. But for more vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or organ transplant patients, an additional dose may be required.

The report says both Pfizer and Moderna are investigating a third dose of Covid vaccine, while Johnson & Johnson is investigating the need for a second dose to increase protection against the virus.

The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is also conducting clinical trials to see if a third Moderna vaccine can be given after a person has initially received two Pfizer shots or one Johnson & Johnson shot. , added report.

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