In a significant step forward in the fight against COVID-19, the NextCOVE study has commenced in Bradford, with the recruitment of its first participants. The trial, based at the Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC) of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a smaller, booster dose of the Moderna vaccine in providing protection against COVID-19 infection.
The maiden volunteers for the trial were Helen Bousfield, a medical secretary at the Trust, and her 12-year-old daughter, Evie. Consultant Paediatrician Dr Anil Shenoy is spearheading the research, which seeks to enrol a minimum of 70 participants, comprising at least 20 young individuals aged 12 to 18 and a minimum of 50 adults aged 18 to 60 and above. Urgent calls are being made, especially to the younger age group, encouraging them to come forward and participate in the trial.
Dr Shenoy expressed his enthusiasm about the trial, emphasising the proven efficacy of vaccines in preventing illness among both adults and children. He stated, “This COVID vaccination study employs a smaller dose compared to previous vaccines. I would encourage adults and children aged over 12 years to take part in this trial.”
All participants, regardless of age, must have received at least one prior COVID vaccination to be eligible for the study. This previous vaccination does not have to be the Moderna vaccine, as any approved COVID vaccine will suffice.
Dr Shenoy explained the primary objective of the trial, stating, “We aim to determine if a smaller booster dose offers the same level of protection against the virus as the original COVID vaccines. We will evaluate if the booster is equally effective in generating an antibody response.” He also highlighted the unique features of the Moderna vaccine, such as its longer shelf life and the absence of refrigeration requirements, making it more convenient for administration.
Participants in the trial will receive the booster dose and undergo periodic assessments after one month, three months, six months, and finally after one year. These evaluations will examine the levels of antibodies produced and monitor potential side effects.
The long-term vision of the study is to develop an annual COVID booster vaccination, potentially available from autumn or winter 2024 onwards. Dr Shenoy likened the booster’s administration to the widely conducted flu jab, stating, “If the booster dose is found to be effective in protecting us against the virus, the plan is to give it every year to anyone aged 12 and above, just as we do with the flu jab.”
He urged individuals to participate in the trial, highlighting the importance of ongoing research and protection against the evolving nature of the virus. Dr Shenoy asserted, “The virus has not gone away. It is evolving all the time, and we don’t know what COVID will look like in the winter of 2023/24 and beyond. Developing an effective booster is the way forward in protecting ourselves.”
Helen Bousfield, one of the trial participants, emphasised the significance of continuing vaccine research and the potential benefits for future generations. She said, “I think the study is really important to continue to produce vaccines. Whether it’s COVID or other things, it’s really important to continue to work on vaccines. Hopefully, us taking part will go on to help lots of other people in the future.”
Individuals interested in participating in the trial are encouraged to contact the PRC at 01274 383383 or via email at PRC.Bradford@bthft.nhs.uk. For further opportunities to engage in research, interested individuals can join the City of Research – Research As One registry by signing up at https://cityofresearch.org/click-to-join/. Additional information on the Patient Recruitment Centre in Bradford can be found on their website: https://local.nihr.ac.uk/prc/bradford/.