BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – A Bruneian study measuring the protective immunity of the three COVID-19 vaccines is due to kick off Monday.

The study will compare participants’ antibody response to three vaccine types administered in Brunei – AstraZeneca (viral vector), Moderna (mRNA) and Sinopharm (inactivated virus).

Speaking at a press briefing on Saturday, Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said the research would be used to devise a strategy for the COVID-19 booster programme and other health policies to contain the virus. 

The study is a collaboration between four parties – the Ministry of Health; UBD’s PAPRSB Institute of Health Sciences; Duke-NUS Medical School of Singapore; and BruHealth app developer EVYD Technology.

A total of 3,000 people who meet the inclusion criteria will be selected at random to participate in the study, associate professor Dr Anne Cunningham, deputy dean of the PAPRSB Institute of Health Sciences, told The Scoop.

They will be selected across all age groups and different vaccine types, but should have received their second dose no more than six weeks ago. Former COVID patients will not be eligible for the study.

Dr Cunningham said text messages will be sent to the first 1,000 participants on Monday, inviting them to participate in the research.

Participation in the study is voluntary and individuals will be given a date/time slot to provide blood samples at the UBD campus.

Participants may also be asked to provide another blood sample once they have received a booster shot, in order to assess the effects of the additional dose.

“We are particularly keen to get volunteers who have had Sinopharm because it is a smaller pool,” Dr Cunningham said. “Most of our first batch invitations will be Sinopharm, but not all.” 

“We will share their results in due course, probably February or March. We will give all participants an information leaflet to explain what the results mean, and we have a doctor on the team available for participants to discuss their results if required.”