Health Care Research

UK announces five new COVID-19 vaccine research projects

A number of new studies have been rolled-out to analyse the durability of vaccine responses, low responses linked with health conditions and the effect of booster shots.

The studies will research a wide range of people including individuals with a weakened immune system, people who are obese, healthcare workers and people with a weak vaccine response.

WHY IT MATTERS

These studies aim to determine how long immunity from the vaccine lasts, identify groups of people at risk from low vaccine responses and determine if and when vaccine boosters are required for these groups, as well as the wider population.

The studies are part of the National Core Studies programme for COVID-19 projects, which is:

  • enabling the UK to use research and health data to inform both our near and long-term responses to COVID-19
  • accelerating progress to establish a world-leading health data and research infrastructure for the future.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

In England, the NHS Covid Pass can now be downloaded via the NHS app if you are registered with a GP.

Although nearly 48 million people in the UK have now received at least one dose, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the recent spike in coronavirus infections and the slump in vaccine uptake risks holding back Europe’s effort to curb the pandemic.  

Research released today by King’s College London has suggested that being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 cuts the risk of infection turning into long Covid.

ON THE RECORD

Dr Rob Buckle, chief scientist of the Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UKRI which funded the trials, said: “Vaccines have proved to be an invaluable tool in the fight against COVID-19, but there are still questions to be answered, from the durability of post-vaccine immunity to vaccine efficacy for people with weakened immune systems.

“These studies will help provide guidance to policymakers and clinicians on a range of issues, including when and for whom booster shots are necessary.”

Science minister, Amanda Solloway, said: “As we build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we continue supporting our world class researchers to better understand the virus and how to tackle it, including our successful vaccination programme.”

“These five COVID-19 research studies we are throwing our weight behind today will be crucial in helping us to solve important unanswered questions – from how long vaccine immunity lasts to the potential effectiveness of booster shots.”