Pioneering multi-variant COVID booster trial opens at King's

One of the first COVID-19 booster vaccines targeting multiple variants to be trialled at King’s - check whether you are eligible to join the study

King's sign

One of the world’s first COVID-19 booster vaccines targeting multiple variants – including Omicron – will soon be trialled at King’s College Hospital and other NHS Trusts, thanks to a partnership between US biotechnology company Moderna Inc and the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research.

The study, which launches at King’s on Tuesday 19 April, will see half of the volunteers given Moderna’s new multi-variant booster and the other half given the UK-approved Moderna booster jab.

The first part of the study – which launched in February 2022 and is being led by St George’s, University of London – examined the effectiveness of an Omicron-specific vaccine made by Moderna. The second phase of the trial will now determine the effectiveness of a bivalent vaccine – one which targets multiple COVID-19 variants.

King’s aims to recruit around 100 participants living in south London who are yet to receive their first or second booster. King’s volunteers will be among the first in the world to test the COVID-19 jab that target multiple variants.

The US company Moderna has stated that while a third dose of its standard COVID-19 vaccine – which is available in the UK – does increase antibodies against the Omicron variant, levels of protection have been found to decline six months after the booster was administered.

Dr James Galloway, Consultant Rheumatologist at King’s College Hospital, will be working with teams across the King’s Clinical Research Facility and Pharmacy Unit to deliver the new vaccine and said: “Vaccines continue to remain a key part of the UK’s defence against COVID-19. Their ability to reduce the risk of serious illness and death has been observed since the start of the roll-out in December 2020.

“This trial is perfectly timed as increasing evidence shows that vaccines which are effective against multiple variants will be key to helping us to live with the virus.”

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Research, said: “The last two years have demonstrated the vital importance of international scientific collaboration. So it is truly exciting to see the NIHR and Moderna working with research teams across the UK on Moderna's first major UK COVID-19 vaccine study.

“With world-leading researchers, and the unique infrastructure and delivery expertise the NIHCR provides, the UK is well-positioned to host exactly these sorts of significant, innovative projects in a post-pandemic world.”

Volunteers for the trial will need to have not tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of November 2021, and should have had their last vaccine at least three months ago.

To find out if you are eligible to join the study, and register to participate, visit: https://connect.trialscope.com/studies/7dff1448-9e85-4beb-81a4-ec4f9170c769.