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MedUni Vienna investigating the efficacy of COVID-19 booster vaccinations

Large-scale study collects data on efficacy and safety
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Bild: Copyright andriano.cz/Shutterstock

(Vienna, 08 November 2021) The Medical University of Vienna is conducting a large-scale study to investigate the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 booster vaccinations. Anyone who receives a booster vaccination in the vaccination clinic at Austria Center Vienna is invited to participate in the study, which will include at least 5,000 volunteers.

The Austrian Vaccination Committee recommends that those who have already had two COVID-19 vaccinations should be given a third vaccination as a so-called "booster" to maintain antibody protection against SARS-CoV-2. The aim is to conduct a population-based study to collect as much data as possible to provide detailed evidence of the efficacy and safety of these vaccinations. Several lessons are to be learned from this. "We want to know how many people have reactions to the vaccine or suffer side-effects and what form these take, and how well they develop antibodies," explains study leader Daniel Aletaha, Head of the Division of Rheumatology at MedUni Vienna's Department of Medicine III. The efficacy of the different vaccines will be studied and certain potentially influencing variables will be recorded: e.g. age, gender, type of vaccine, time since basic immunisation, previous illnesses, medication.

Anyone who would like to participate can register in person at the vaccination clinic within Austria Center Vienna. The study will include three blood samples - one on the day of the booster vaccination, one four weeks after vaccination and a third after six months (they will all be taken at the Austria Center Vienna). Participants will be sent SMS questionnaires during the seven days following vaccination to assess safety and reactions to vaccination.

In principle, anyone can take part in the study, including those who have recovered (from COVID-19)  and are receiving their second injection. The study excludes those who are only getting their first or second basic vaccination.

The blood samples are used to measure antibodies (spike proteins) and whether the person has previously been infected (nucleocapsids). "Everyone who takes part in our study will be sent the blood results," explains Daniel Aletaha, "this will give them certainty as to whether and how strongly their immune system has responded to the vaccine."
It is hoped that the results will provide information about which vaccine combinations are most effective and safe in providing protection against the coronavirus, as well as which people generally have a better or worse  response to vaccination. Several organisational units of MedUni Vienna (Division of Rheumatology of the Department of Medicine III, Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Department of Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation and Occupational Medicine) are involved in the study. The study is partly funded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.

Anyone who would like to participate in the study can register in person at the time of their vaccination appointment.