UK ‘mix and match’ vaccine trial expanded to include Moderna and Novavax

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(CNN) - A major UK trial to examine whether different coronavirus vaccines can safely be used for two-dose regimens has now been expanded to include the Moderna and Novavax vaccines, with results expected to be reported in a matter of months.

The Oxford Vaccine Group’s Com-Cov study started in February and is the world’s first to examine whether different coronavirus vaccines can safely be used in the two-dose vaccination program.

The study to mix and match Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for first and second doses moved into its second stage on Wednesday, and will now expand to offer a combination of the four different vaccines including Moderna and Novavax.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Wednesday, Matthew Snape of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Com-Cov study said the results of the trial could be available by the summer -- although no firm date has been released.

“There's some hints from studies that have been done in mice that the combinations of vaccines might actually give a better immune response overall, which would obviously be better,” he said.

The study, funded by the UK government’s Vaccine Task Force and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will look at people from the age of 50 who've already had their first dose of vaccine.

More than 800 people have taken part in the research so far and have received two doses of either Pfizer, AstraZeneca or a mix of both.

Snape told the BBC that the findings could have a huge impact on the vaccine rollout across the world.

If we have flexibility in which vaccines we give for the second dose or even later doses, it massively increases the flexibility and resilience of the immunization program, and would mean we can roll these vaccines out more quickly, not just in the UK but internationally,” Snape said.

The research, described as a single blind study, doesn’t allow the vaccine brand to be disclosed to either the participants receiving the shot or the scientists monitoring the results, who will use blood tests to look for immune responses.

Subjects can visit one of nine study sites across England, with the organizers pushing to recruit people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and those with pre-existing conditions.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently warns COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. “We don’t want people to just start mixing and matching with whatever is easiest to get,” said CDC medical officer, Dr. Sarah Mbaeyi during the CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity call in March.

The CDC currently recommends a two dose series for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and advises that vaccines should only be mixed and matched in “exceptional situations.”

The rollout of the Moderna vaccine in the UK started in April. The Novavax vaccine is currently under review by the UK Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

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