World Mix and match vaccine study extended to include Moderna and Novavax jabs
Decision about AstraZeneca's use in Australia to be make this week
An urgent investigation was launched into the potential side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine after a Melbourne man who received the jab was hospitalised with a rare blood clotting condition. Experts have been holding talks with European regulators to determine whether the 44-year-old's low blood platelets and 22 other similar cases in the UK are linked to the vaccine. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) will convene on Wednesday to weigh up the risks and benefits of AstraZeneca jabs once further information is provided from international discussions.
A study assessing the benefits of mixing and matching coronavirus vaccines has been extended to include the Moderna and Novavax jabs.
The Com-Cov study, led by the University of Oxford, has been investigating the immune responses of volunteers given a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the Pfizer jab - and vice versa.
The additional study will seek to recruit adults aged over 50 who have received their first dose in the past eight to 12 weeks.
Young Australians' hopes for an overseas holiday could be dashed
Australia had been aiming to open its international borders beyond New Zealand from the end of October when every citizen was expected to receive at least their first vaccine dose. But that timeline is now almost impossible to meet following Thursday's announcement the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine - which Australia had purchased the most doses of - was no longer recommended for under 50s, only the Pfizer jab.
The volunteers, who will have received either an AstraZeneca or a Pfizer dose, will be randomly allocated to receive either the same vaccine for their second jab, or a dose of the Moderna or Novavax vaccines.
Six new "arms" of the trial will each recruit 175 candidates, adding a further 1050 volunteers into programme.
If someone is known to have hadthey are not eligible for enrolment.
Researchers will be looking for adverse reactions and the immune system responses to these new combinations of vaccines.
The trial is not designed to show if the vaccines are effective at preventing disease.
The research will take place across eight sites in the UK.
Remembering the April 9, 1940 invasion of Denmark by Nazi Germany
Over 80 years ago, on April 9, 1940, neutral Denmark was invaded by the Nazis on orders from Adolf Hitler. In just a few hours, the German Army had overwhelmed Denmark's army and navy, and destroyed its air corps. The occupation lasted five years, during which civilian life and most Danish institutions continued to function relatively normally. But it was an uneasy relationship between a democratic and a totalitarian system, and towards the end of the war an effective resistance movement had been established, and most Danish Jews were rescued in dramatic fashion in 1943. The country was finally liberated in May 1945. Click through the following gallery for a remarkable look back at that fateful day, April 9, and the series of events that followed.
The University of Oxford has said the intent of the study is to show that mixing is not substantially worse than not mixing.
It will compare the immune system responses to the gold-standard responses reported in previous clinical trials of each vaccine.
If the study shows promising results, regulators would formally assess the safety and efficacy of any new vaccination regimen before it is rolled out to patients.
Matthew Snape, associate professor in paediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford and chief investigator on the trial, said: "The focus of both this and the original Com-Cov study is to explore whether the multiple COVID-19 vaccines that are available can be used more flexibly, with different vaccines being used for the first and second dose.
"If we can show that these mixed schedules generate an immune response that is as good as the standard schedules, and without a significant increase in the vaccine reactions, this will potentially allow more people to complete their COVID-19 immunisation course more rapidly.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine hot property after AstraZeneca blood clotting decision. But can Australia access them quickly?
Given the advice that under-50s in Australia now receive the Pfizer vaccine over AstraZeneca, supply of the European jab has become even more important. But can we flick the switch and access more?The Pfizer vaccine, produced in partnership with German company BioNTech, is being used in more than 38 countries worldwide — as well as the European Union — with millions of people being jabbed across the world.
"This would also create resilience within the system in the event of a shortfall in availability of any of the vaccines in use."
The UK has secured 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 60 million doses of the Novavax jab, and 17 million doses of the Moderna jab.
Novavax has not been given the green light for use in the UK but the company has applied for approval.
Professor Snape will explain at a briefing on Wednesday that Novavax is different from other vaccines and so it is a good idea to include it in the additional study.
Unlike the other jabs, which work by tricking the body's cells to manufacture the parts of the virus that then trigger the immune system, it combines an engineered protein from the virus that causeswith a plant-based carrier to trigger the immune system directly.
Professor Snape said the J&J vaccine, which also has not yet been approved for use in the UK, is a singe-dose treatment and is therefore not useful for this trial.
The results from the initial Com-Cov study, which began in February, are due in around a week's time.
Novavax COVID-19 vaccine production set back due to supply shortages
Novavax pushes back the timeline for hitting its production target of 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses per month due to supply shortages, dealing another blow to the federal government's rollout plans.Australia has an agreement for 51 million doses of Novavax originally slated for "mid-2021", at which point executives had said full-scale vaccine production could be achieved.
It involved 830 participants recruited over eight sites.
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The study has been extended as over-45s are now able to book their first coronavirus jab in the UK.
It comes after the government reached its target of offering a first dose to the nine most vulnerable groups - including all over-50s.
Coronavirus restrictions were eased on Monday as part of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.
Q+A panellist Vicky Xu says Chinese government agents have detained her friends over her reporting on Uyghurs and human rights abuses in Xinjiang .
Journalist Vicky Xu details colleagues being accused of rape and her friends being interrogated by Chinese government agents over her reporting on human rights abuses in Xinjiang, while Dr Norman Swan says Australia should be procuring the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, not just Pfizer.She also fears she is being monitored in Australia by Chinese government agents.