LONDON, February 4. / TASS /. Scientists at Oxford University will conduct the first study in the world to test the effectiveness of an injection of two doses of coronavirus vaccine from various manufacturers. This is stated in the message of the scientific and educational institution spread on Thursday.
More than 800 volunteers over 50 years old will take part in the tests, which will be divided into four groups. The first two of them will receive both doses of the vaccine from the same manufacturer: either a drug from the American company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, or a drug from the British-Swedish AstraZeneca, developed jointly with the University of Oxford. It is these vaccines that are currently being used in the United Kingdom.
The other two groups of volunteers will be vaccinated by a combination of two doses of these drugs: one will be vaccinated with Pfizer vaccine first, then they will be injected with AstraZeneca, and vice versa. In a statement, scientists emphasize that some of the volunteers will receive a second dose four weeks after the first injection, while for others this interval will be 12 weeks. The study itself will take a little over a year, experts said.
"If we can demonstrate that these vaccines can be used with each other, it will make the vaccination program much more flexible, especially in terms of supply of the drug. In addition, the study will help us understand how we can further improve protection against new strains of the virus." - said Matthew Snape, associate professor of the Department of Pediatrics and Vaccology at the University of Oxford, under whose leadership the tests will take place.
Vaccination of the population in the UK began on December 8th. According to government figures, the first of two doses of the vaccine has already been administered to more than 10 million people - 15% of the kingdom's population. The first to vaccinate were medical workers, persons living in nursing homes, and people over 80 years old. Since mid-January, the authorities announced the start of vaccination of Britons aged 70 to 80 years, as well as people suffering from diseases that can complicate the course of COVID-19.
The UK government has previously decided to extend the interval between two doses of the drug from the recommended three weeks to three months, so that as many people as possible get vaccinated in a short time. The authorities are aiming to vaccinate approximately 15 million people by mid-February, which would ease the current coronavirus restrictions. The number of deaths in the UK from complications caused by coronavirus exceeds 109 thousand, which is the highest figure in Europe.