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One, Then the Other

University of Oxford researchers are investigating whether mixing different COVID-19 vaccines provides the same or better protection than one type of vaccine alone, Business Insider reports.

With £7 million (US $9.5 million) in UK government funding, the researchers are conducting a trial of 820 people over the age of 50 who have yet to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the Guardian adds. For their first dose, volunteers will receive either the AstraZeneca-Oxford University or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Then, for their second dose, some volunteers will receive the same vaccine they were previously given and others will receive the other.

When the UK floated this idea in December, Kate Bingham, outgoing chair of the UK's vaccine taskforce, told the Guardian the concept is known as a heterologous prime-boost. "It means mix and matching vaccines," she added.

The trial will also examine different timing — 28 days and 12 weeks — between vaccine doses.

"If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery, and could provide clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains," Oxford's Matthew Snape, the study's chief investigator, says in a statement.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.