A team of Launceston researchers have joined the top infectious disease experts from around the country in a study to determine if mixing COVID-19 vaccines will increase patient immunity.
The study will include collaborators from Telethon Kids Institute, the University of Western Australia, Perth Children's Hospital, RMIT University, the University of Adelaide, the University of Sydney, the Doherty Institute and Launceston General Hospital.
In Launceston, clinical trials will be overseen by the LGH's head of infectious diseases, Professor Katie Flanagan, who said the inclusion of a regional city in the trial was of significant importance.
"There are other trials being done around the world but they're all relatively small," she said.
"The thing that's of importance in Australia is that we have a largely COVID-naive population, whereas most of the other studies are coming from populations where more than half of the population may have been exposed to some COVID - or have been infected.
"We have a different demographic, a different population, so we need to understand the Australian-specific situation."
Professor Flanagan said the purpose of the trial was to understand the impact COVID vaccine booster shots would have on the immune system, between patients who received a booster that was the same as their two primary doses, versus patients who received a different booster
"A lot of people have had the AstraZeneca vaccine, but on the whole Australia is recommending Pfizer as a booster vaccine, so that will be important to understand how that differs from having AstraZeneca as your booster dose," she said.
"Likewise, if you've had your mRNA vaccine, what is the impact of then using AstraZeneca as a booster, which may happen if somebody can't have more of the mRNA vaccine, say they've had an allergic reaction.
"It's to really understand a bit more about the boosting of that immune response, and then to understand how long that boost lasts and look at all the different immunological impacts of that boost."
Professor Flanagan said the Launceston trials would be funded with about $400,000 of federal funding from a $4.1 million grant provided by the federal government's Medical Research Future Fund.
She said the Launceston team would include staff from the LGH and the Clifford Craig Medical Research Foundation, with the trials expected to begin in February 2022.
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