UK government secures 114m bites for future recall campaigns
Covid-19 vaccines for possible booster campaigns over the next two years have been secured by ministers.
Some scientists have suggested Covid-19 will need to be kept at bay with repeated vaccination campaigns while others said it was too early to say whether annual boosters will be needed.
Although there is uncertainty about the need for future campaigns, the government has announced that it has signed deals for 114 million Moderna and Pfizer jabs to be delivered in 2022 and 2023.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the agreements ‘take for the future’ the country’s immunization programme.
They include an additional 60 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and an additional 54 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the agreements include access to modified vaccines if needed to combat Omicron and future variants of concern.
He said the new agreements are in addition to an additional 35 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and 60 million doses from Novavax and 7.5 million doses from GSK/Sanofi expected in 2022.
The department said the government already had sufficient supplies of Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech for the expanded recall program.
It comes after authorities announced that all adults in the UK would be offered a booster shot by the end of January amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant.
Vaccination experts advising the government have expressed a preference for mRNA vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna.
Trial data suggest that booster doses are generally well tolerated and provide a substantial increase in vaccine-induced immune responses, in particular, and that mRNA vaccines provide a strong booster effect.
Mr Javid said: “Through the Vaccine Task Force, we have a great track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.
“These new agreements will build on Britain’s vaccination effort – which has so far delivered more than 115million primes, seconds and boosters across the UK – and ensure we can protect even more people. in the years to come.
“This is a national mission and our best weapon to deal with this virus and its variants is to get the punches – so when you’re called, take the hit and get boosted.”
But the announcement comes as world health leaders have questioned the UK’s recall campaign.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies programme, said he was not aware of any evidence to suggest that offering reminders to the general population offered better protection to healthy people.
Asked about the acceleration of the UK’s booster programme, he told a press briefing: “It is difficult for some countries which have huge quantities of excess vaccine to decide who to give it to, but it’s not the problem facing many countries around the world that can’t even vaccinate the most vulnerable, so it’s a luxurious position if you’re able to get enough vaccine to do it.
He added: “The main objective I think all governments must now be, in the face of Delta and Omicron and others, is to ensure that all vulnerable people, the elderly, people with diseases under -lying, are immediately offered the vaccine to ensure that everyone has had at least a first round of vaccine.
“There are others here who can answer better than me regarding the benefits of a recall regarding other variants, but at this time there is no evidence that I am aware of that would suggest that the Boosting the entire population will necessarily provide greater protection for otherwise healthy people against hospitalization or death.
“The real risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death lies with those particularly at risk and vulnerable who need protection against all variants of Covid-19.”
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