08 March 2021

A new trial has been launched to study the immune response to COVID-19 vaccines in patients with impaired immune system, in order to determine the effectiveness of vaccination in this group.

The OCTAVE trial, which is being run by researchers at the University of Birmingham, will recruit up to 5,000 clinically at-risk people in the UK, including people with cancer, inflammatory arthritis, kidney or liver diseases, or who are having a stem cell transplant.

The team also includes researchers from the universities of Glasgow, Oxford, Liverpool, Imperial College London and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The researchers will use cutting-edge immune tests on blood samples taken before and/or after COVID-19 vaccination to determine the patients’ COVID-19 immune response.

Researchers have begun recruiting patients at sites across the UK and will compare results from the study group against control groups of healthy people without underlying diseases who also received COVID-19 vaccines.

Professor Pam Kearns, director of the University of Birmingham’s Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU), said: “Current evidence shows that people with these medical conditions may not obtain optimal protection from established vaccines.

“Patients with significant underlying diseases were generally excluded from COVID-19 vaccine studies to date – it is now important to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines work well in such conditions.

“We are pleased to be supporting this important nationally collaborative study that will inform the best use of the COVID-19 vaccines to protect these vulnerable patients.”

Scientists are still unsure how long COVID-19 vaccines provide immunity for, which means there may be a need for an ongoing vaccination programme against the disease. The results from the OCTAVE study will help to inform how best to vaccinate patients with chronic conditions and protect them from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Professor Iain McInnes, head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow who leads the OCTAVE study, said: “We urgently need to understand if patient populations with chronic conditions such as cancer, inflammatory arthritis and kidney and liver disease are likely to be well-protected by current COVID-19 vaccines. The OCTAVE study will give us invaluable new data to help us answer questions of this kind from our patients and their families.”

Source: University of Birmingham



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