By Rachael Grealish
Thousands of volunteers will receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine in a new clinical trial, the Health Secretary has confirmed.
Speaking today, Wednesday May 19, from Downing Street, a £19.3 million Cov-Boost study, led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and backed by the government 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.
This comes in response to the rising numbers of the Indian variant (B.1.617.2) across the UK.
Matt Hancock described the COVID vaccine’s protection of the sword to the shield of restrictions as the current evidence shows the vaccine protection against the new variant.
He said: “Overall hospitalisations and deaths remain very low, meaning we’ve been able carefully to take away more restrictions this week as we’ve taken step 3 of the roadmap but we must proceed with vigilance and everyone taking personal responsibility
“We’ve always known one of the things that has the potential to knock us off track would be a new variant that’s why we made the presence of a new variant that could do that one our four tests when we set out the road map.
“The early evidence suggests the Indian variant, first discovered in India, passes on more easily than the B117 variant that was first discovered in Kent but as the PM said at lunchtime we have increasing confidence of the vaccine being effective against it that means our strategy is the right one; to carefully replace the restrictions on freedom with the protection of the vaccine.”
Hancock went on to stress the importance of people who’re eligible to get vaccinated when they can.
“What it means is that it is even more important that people get vaccinated,” he continued.
“As I reported to the House of Commons there are now 2,967 cases known of this variant in the UK and we are determined to do all that we can to ensure this new variant doesn’t put our recovery at risk so we’ve acted fast to guard the gains that we’ve made together.
“We now have an incredibly sensitive bio security surveillance system here in the UK.
“This system spotted the cases in Bolton and Blackburn early and through surge testing and increased vaccinations, we’re throwing everything at it there.”
The health Secretary confirmed weekly case rate in Bolton is now 238 per 100k and is doubled in the last week.
He also said there are now 25 in Bolton hospital with COVID-19 the majority are unvaccinated and nearly 90 percent have not had two vaccines this shows the importance of getting vaccinated; not once, but twice.
It was announced in the last week there were ‘fewer than ten’ cases of the Indian variant in Cumbria.
People can volunteer to be part of the new vaccine trials by clicking here.