A clinical trial has launched in the UK to test the safety and effectiveness of administering a third dose of seven different COVID-19 vaccines.

The Cov-Boost study, led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and backed by £19.3 million of government funding through the Vaccines Taskforce, will be the first in the world to provide data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses.

The study will take place at 16 NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) supported sites across England, and also within Health and Care Research Wales and NHS Research Scotland sites.

A total of 2,886 patients and participants are to begin receiving one of seven vaccinations as part of the study from early June, at least 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose was received as part of the ongoing vaccination programme.

Vaccines being trialled include Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac, as well as a control group.

Initial findings are expected in September and will help inform decisions by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on plans for a booster programme from autumn this year.

“We will do everything we can to future-proof this country from pandemics and other threats to our health security, and the data from this world-first clinical trial will help shape the plans for our booster programme later this year,” commented health secretary Matt Hancock.