Researchers from the UK and Russia are set to test whether combining shots of Oxford- AstraZeneca and Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines could result in better protection than two doses of the same. According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the trials for the same would begin by the end of the year. Confirming the same, British–Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, revealed that it was exploring the possibilities of assessing different vaccine candidates and combining it with its own to boost immunity.
"On November 23, 2020, following results which showed high efficacy for the Sputnik V vaccine, RDIF and the Gamaleya Center offered AstraZeneca the use of one of the two components of the Sputnik V vaccine," the RDIF announced.
The RDIF has funded the development of Sputnik V vaccine by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute and was in talks with AstraZeneca to begin combination trials to its success, The Guardian reported. The concept of combining two vaccines is called heterologous prime-boost and in past has helped in vaccination programmes against other diseases. As for Sputnik V and AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine candidate, they are both based on a modified version of adenovirus, a common cold virus.
The vector stripped of its disease-causing genes and modified to carry genetic instructions for making the coronavirus spike protein. This prompts the cells to cause an immune response which eventually protects against the SARS-CoV-2. By combining Sputnik V and AstraZeneca jab, researchers now aim to combine two adenovirus vectors to incite a stronger response.
Meanwhile, health officials in the UK are now planning to combine the doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with that of AstraZeneca-University of Oxford. Earlier this month, British regulators approved the Pfizer’s vaccine candidate becoming the first country in the world to do so. However, researchers from the UK vaccine task force are now hoping to combine both vaccines to bolster their effectiveness against COVID-19.