Five new research projects will examine COVID-19 vaccine responses

COVID-19 vaccine responses
© Jerry Adiguna

Five new COVID-19 research projects will study the durability of vaccine responses, low responses linked with health conditions and the effect of booster shots

The projects will research the strength and durability of the immune response in a wide range of people, including people with conditions that result in a weakened immune system, people who are obese, health care workers and people with weak vaccine responses.

They 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.

£4 million funding

The five projects receiving a total of over £4 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), include:

  • Investigation of proven vaccine breakthrough by SARS-CoV-2 variants in established UK healthcare worker cohorts: SIREN consortium and PITCH Plus Pathway – £1.57 million – Dr Susan Hopkins, Public Health England.
  • An immunogenetic approach to guide the need for booster shots and combat immune failure in SARS-CoV-2 vaccine response – £980,000 – Professor Julian Knight, University of Oxford.
  • The Durability of immune responses to vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants – £780,000 – Professor Rosemary Boyton, Imperial College London.
  • SARS COV2 vaccine ResPonse In Obesity – SCORPIO study – £750,000 – Dr James Thaventhiran and Professor Sadaf Farooqi, University of Cambridge.
  • Determining the immunological basis for weakened SARS-CoV-2 vaccination outcomes – £420,000 – Dr Laura McCoy, UCL

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.”

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.”


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