A new UK study will examine the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in patients with certain immunosuppressed conditions such as cancer, inflammatory arthritis and kidney and liver disease.

The OCTAVE trial, which is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), is a collaborative research project involving groups in the Universities of Glasgow, Birmingham, Oxford, Liverpool, Imperial College London and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Patients with significant underlying diseases were generally excluded from Covid-19 vaccine studies to date because of the increased risk of the more severe complications of Covid-19 infection.

Researchers will now study how well the Covid-19 vaccines work in people in clinically at-risk patient groups as current evidence shows that people with these medical conditions may not obtain optimal protection from established vaccines. 

OCTAVE study will give us invaluable new data

The OCTAVE study will investigate the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines being used in the UK in 2021, in up to 5,000 people within these patient populations. Using a variety of state-of-the-art immune tests performed on blood samples taken before and/or after Covid-19 vaccination, researchers will determine patients’ Covid-19 immune response and therefore the likelihood that vaccines will fully protect these groups from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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 these underlying diseases, who also received Covid-19 vaccines. The OCTAVE study will evaluate patients who receive Covid-19 vaccines as part of the national vaccination programme.

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.”

Scientists do not yet know how long Covid-19 vaccines provide immunity for, and there may be an ongoing vaccination requirement against the disease for years to come. This may be especially so in people with weakened immune systems, due to drug treatments and underlying disease. Results from the OCTAVE study will help to inform how best to vaccinate patients with chronic conditions, and protect them from SAAR-CoV-2 infection.