LONDON: A new coronavirus booster vaccine, the first said to be variant-proof, is being trialed in Manchester in the UK.
The mRNA vaccine, known as GRT-R910, could eliminate the need for COVID-19 vaccines to be constantly updated to counter emerging strains of the disease.
The first subjects of the booster trial — retired couple Andrew Clarke, 63, and his wife Helen, a 64-year-old former nurse — received their jabs on Monday.
Another 20 volunteers, all over the age of 60 — constituting the most vulnerable cohort of the population — will also receive the jab. Further trials in other vulnerable demographics are also planned.
Scientists at US pharmaceutical company Gritstone, working with the University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, will study dosages, tolerability, immunogenicity and side effects over four months following initial administration. They hope for results by early 2022.
“We now know the immune response to first generation vaccines can wane, particularly in older people,” said Prof. Andrew Ustianowski, the study’s chief investigator at the University of Manchester.
“Coupled with the prevalence of emerging variants, there is a clear need for continued vigilance to keep COVID-19 at bay,” he added.
“We think GRT-R910 as a booster vaccination will elicit strong, durable and broad immune responses, which are likely to be critical in maintaining protection of this vulnerable elderly population who are particularly at risk of hospitalization and death.”