Scientists to test mixing different COVID-19 vaccines

Researchers are beginning to conduct clinical trials in which participants will receive a first dose of one COVID-19 vaccine and a second dose of a vaccine made by a different drugmaker, according to a Feb. 4 report from The Wall Street Journal.

The strategy being tested is called heterologous prime-boost vaccination. By combining shots that train the immune system to attack pathogens in slightly different ways, researchers say the body may produce a more effective immune response. 

Exploring new ways to strengthen the body's immune response against the novel coronavirus has become especially necessary since the emergence of new virus variants, which are often highly infectious. The approach could also address COVID-19 vaccine supply problems by giving vaccine administrators more options when patients return for their second shots.

The U.K. is partially funding one of the trials testing this approach. University of Oxford researchers are enrolling 820 volunteers in trial in which they will receive one shot of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as one shot of the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the university.

AstraZeneca also said in December that it plans to conduct a human clinical trial that tests its vaccine in combination with Sputnik V, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. The trial is expected to begin in the near future in Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates and other nations.

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