Friday Five

Covid latest: home antibody tests, vaccine plans for 12-15 year-olds and waning protection in double-jabbed – this week’s Friday Five

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Home antibody tests for COVID-19 to be made available in UK

Up to 8,000 adults a day will be given free access to antibody tests through a new national surveillance programme, which will be launched by the UK Health Security Agency next week. From Tuesday 31 August 2021, anyone aged over 18 years old will be able to opt in to take part when booking a PCR test through NHS Test and Trace. The UK Health Security Agency, alongside NHS Test and Trace testing services, will monitor levels of antibodies in positive cases across the UK.

The aim is to help improve understanding of immunity against COVID-19 from vaccination and infection. This is the first time antibody tests have been made available to the general public. Until now, antibody testing has only been available to specific cohorts for clinical or research purposes. The data collected will be used to help estimate the number of those who were infected with COVID-19, despite developing antibodies as a result of having a vaccine or previously catching coronavirus.

Read the full story in PharmaTimes.

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NHS England prepares Covid vaccine plan for 12-15 year-olds, reports say

NHS organisations in England have been told to prepare for a possible extension of the Covid vaccination programme to all 12 to 15-year-olds. The Department of Health said no decisions had been made, but confirmed that planning for a range of scenarios was taking place to ensure all eventualities were prepared for.

Earlier this month, the JCVI advised that all 16 and 17 year olds should be given a first dose of a vaccine. Unlike older age groups, no second dose is being scheduled. Any change to the rollout next month will be dependant on a recommendation from experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Read the full story in the Guardian.

Covid-19 infection protection waning in double jabbed

Researchers from the Zoe COVID study say they are seeing some waning of protection against Covid infections in double-jabbed people. The real-world study includes data on positive Covid PCR test results between May and July 2021 among more than a million people who had received two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.

Protection after two shots of Pfizer decreased from 88% at one month to 74% at five to six months. For AstraZeneca, the fall was from 77% to 67% at four to five months. Waning protection is to be expected, say experts. Although some breakthrough infections may be happening, vaccines are still doing a very good job at protecting people against severe Covid illness and deaths.

Read the full story in the BBC.

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UK study to test third COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised people

A new government-funded clinical trial in the UK will investigate whether a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systems gives a stronger immune response than two doses.

The study, Octave Duo, will offer people who are immunosuppressed or immunocompromised a Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccine as a third ‘booster’ vaccine.

The £2.2m study will build on the Octave trial, led by the University of Glasgow and co-ordinated by the University of Birmingham’s Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit, which showed that 89% of people who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed generate antibodies, and 60% generate a strong antibody response after two doses. However, 40% of people in these groups mounted a low, or undetectable, immune response after two doses, and the level of antibody response varies between the groups studied.

Read the full story in the PharmaTimes.


Quote of the week

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has been awarded funding to lead a consortium of research partners to better understand how individuals respond to the Covid vaccines.  The research will seek to answer a number of key questions, including why some people get reinfections or infections after vaccination while others do not. It will also assess how long immunity from vaccinations lasts, how the timeline differs between the different vaccines and how changes in the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ genetic make-up might evade the immune response.

Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID-19 Strategic Response Director at PHE said:

”Understanding the immune response is essential, not only to determine who is most at risk of infections after vaccination, but also for vaccine developers who can target key components of the immune response effectively for future booster vaccines…We are pleased that this funding will allow us to better understand immunity and are very grateful to the nearly 50,000 participants who have given up their time to take part in the study.”

Read the full story in GOV.UK