Delayed Second And Third Doses Of AstraZeneca Vaccine Lead T
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Immune responses to the AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccine improve with a longer gap of up to 45 weeks between doses, with a third shot able to boost antibody levels even further, according to a study. Leaving a gap of as long as 10 months between the first and second doses increased the level of protective antibodies, according to research.

The researchers were also able to show for the first time that a booster dose induced a strong response and increased activity against variants. The study also found that antibodies induced after a single dose survived to some extent after one year. Still, after 180 days antibody levels were half those seen at the 28 day peak. A second dose increased antibody levels between four and 18-fold by one month after the shot, however.

Volunteers in the latest study were drawn from Oxford’s original early and late-stage trials for the vaccine last year. Thirty participants who only received a single dose in the trial were given a second one about 10 months after the first. An additional 90 participants from those studies received a third dose. All volunteers were between the ages of 18 and 55, as that age group was the one being recruited at that stage of the trials last year.

~ Variant antibodies

Higher levels of neutralizing antibodies against the alpha, beta and delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 were also shown after a third dose compared with a second. The results support the idea that viral-vector vaccines can be used as boosters, which some scientists had been skeptical about because humans can build up an immunity to the vector.

Oxford and Astra have also started another trial to test a variant vaccine that has been adapted to try to better protect against the beta variant originally found in the U.K. The late-stage trial is expected to recruit about 2,250 participants across the U.K., Brazil, South Africa and Poland. The first participant was dosed June 27.

The shot will be given to people who have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the Astra vaccine or a messenger RNA vaccine, such as the ones from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., at least three months after their second dose. Non-vaccinated individuals will also be eligible to receive the variant vaccine -- AZD2816 -- with different intervals and combinations of the new and original shots being tested.