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Vaccines ‘don’t work equally against covid variants’ says expert

The coronavirus vaccination programme is well underway in what is the country’s biggest immunisation program in history. So far, more than nine million people have received their first dose of the vaccine while just over 400,000 have had both shots. The Government are looking to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups first, starting with the elderly and health and social care workers at the frontline of the pandemic.

Can you mix the Covid vaccines?

As it stands, it’s not actually known whether mixing the vaccines is a safe option for recipients.

But this morning, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi issued an essential update on the progress of this.

A UK trial is being launched to see whether different vaccines can be safely mixed, with the vaccines minister saying it will make the rollout “more efficient”.

Mr Zahawi stressed the ongoing research would not impact the deployment of vaccines going on now.

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Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Mr Zahawi said: “If you have had a Pfizer vaccine, you’ll get your second dose within 12 weeks of Pfizer.

“If you had Oxford/AstraZeneca, amoxicillin dosage for infants with ear infection you’ll get your Oxford vaccine within 12 weeks.

“The UK remains at the forefront of Covid vaccines and, of course, research overall.

“This [study] is looking at how we can develop, be even more efficient for the UK, but also for the rest of the world.”

Mr Zahawi added: “The one thing to remember is, that we will not be safe, even as I absolutely will do, deliver that mid-February target for the most vulnerable four cohorts, and then keep going for the nine cohorts in phase one, and then keep going beyond that until each adult is vaccinated, we still have to make sure the rest of the world is also vaccinated.

“And this research will help us understand how we can use vaccines more efficiently.”

The study, dubbed Com-Cov, is run by the National Immunisation Schedule Evaluation Consortium (NISEC).

More than 800 volunteers are being asked to come forward to take part in the groundbreaking trial.

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Some will receive the Oxford jab followed by the Pfizer vaccine and vice versa, four or 12 weeks apart from one another.

Initial results are expected to become publicly available during the summer, just in time to inform policy on the use of booster vaccines among the younger population.

Mr Zahawi said the trial is “hugely important” and it “will provide us with more vital evidence on the safety of these vaccines when used in different ways”.

He added: “Nothing will be approved for use more widely than the study, or as part of our vaccine deployment programme until researchers and the regulators are absolutely confident the approach is safe and effective.”

Professor Matthew Snape, a vaccinologist at Oxford University and part of the Oxford vaccine team, confirmed the trial.

Professor Snape said: “We are looking to unroll the trial this month and then would start to get results through, probably in June or July looking at the antibody levels at least.

“That is our target and it would be in time to influence the second dose of vaccines for the rollout that’s happening over the next few months.”

More vaccines could be added into the mix once they are approved by the UK’s medicines regulator, the MHRA.

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