Wanted: Volunteers to test vaccine cocktail

Wanted: Volunteers to test vaccine cocktail
© Julia Koblitz for Unsplash

Scientists at the University of Antwerp are urgently looking for volunteers from the public, to be vaccinated with a mixture of the available vaccines.

The experiment is looking at one way to combat the recent changes to the supply of approved vaccines – uncertain deliveries in the case of Johnson & Johnson, and cancellation by the EU of AstraZeneca.

The vaccines have also encountered difficulties with side effects, leading to age restrictions.

Candidates for the testing will be 18-55 years old and in good general health. Candidates aged 40-55 are particularly sought-after, as the younger age group is normally filled rapidly with students and others, while the older group is approaching the time when they would be vaccinated by the normal procedure.

Katie Steenackers, a research physician who supervises the participants, explained the experiment to Gazet van Antwerpen.

We want to compare the effects of different combinations with Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. A first Pfizer vaccine with a second Moderna, for example, or a first AstraZeneca with a second Pfizer, both at the normal interval and with a longer delay. This could be an advantage if a certain brand is not available at a certain time, because the production and delivery of vaccines is a delicate process,” she said.

Also think of the third booster in question: which one should or could it be? We suspect that flexible mixtures are possible, as is, incidentally, used in Great Britain and Spain without prior research. That way we can move faster worldwide.”

Female candidates should be using a reliable method of contraception for at least one month before the experiment until one month after. The whole test lasts for one year and involves six visits.

Those who should not apply include pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone who has been infected with Covid-19, anyone who has already been vaccinated at least once, persons with drugs or alcohol problems, immune issues or other serious conditions. Participants who are signed up will receive compensation of €60 per visit at the end of the experiment in August 2022.

Details, in Dutch only, at the centre’s website.

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