Brits could be asked to take fourth Covid vaccine as Omicron cases soar


The head of Britain’s vaccine watchdog has already indicated more boosters may be needed in future to control variants of Coronavirus.

Britons could be asked to take a fourth booster
Britons could be asked to take a fourth booster

Britons could be asked to take a fourth vaccine to slow the spread of Omicron, following Israel and Germany’s lead.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is weighing up levels of immunity with a second set of boosters.

A fourth vaccine has already been offered to people with weakened immune systems, but the elderly and vulnerable groups could soon be offered the jab too.

It’s likely a fourth jab would be rolled out four months after the third and could be made available in the New Year.

The head of Britain’s vaccine watchdog has already indicated people may need more regular boosters in future thanks to the decision to rush through a shorter rollout.

JCVI chief Prof Wei Shen Lim said on December 14 that waiting three months, not six, for a booster dose “might mean a lower peak protection”.

He added the shorter gap was only approved on the basis that an “Omicron wave” was on the way and needed urgent action.

Boosters have been rolled out to contain the spread of Omicron
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He told MPs: “If you get the booster at six months and you teach a higher level, say 200, and that wanes at a certain constant rate, to drop from 200 to 50 would take a period of time.

“If you get the booster at three months and the peak level it can get too is lower, say 150, and it wanes at the same rate, it will reach 50 at an earlier time point.”

Asked if that meant people may need to get more regular boosters, he replied: “Indeed. And that’s why, generally if possible, we try and push out the duration between two doses.”

Meanwhile, Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the JCVI, has called for more data on waning immunity and vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation.

He added that the UK is in a different position to Israel, suggesting that more time should be taken before ploughing ahead with the boosters.

Experts in Israel introduced the fourth vaccine after noting the immunity of the third was already waning.

As of today, medical professionals and citizens over the age of 60 will be able to get their fourth booster.

Celebrating the move, the country’s prime minister Naftali Bennett tweeted: “The world will follow in our footsteps.”

After Omicron was first announced in the country, Israeli authorities moved quickly, banning foreigners from entering the country on 25 November and adding countries to its ‘high risk’ list.

On Tuesday, the country recorded at east 340 cases in Israel and its first death linked to this variant.

People queue at the vaccine centre in Scotland
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Image:

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Meanwhile, Germany has ordered 80 millions doses for a fourth vaccine after health minister Karl Lauterbach warned it would be needed to tackle the strain.

The booster doses of the Biotech vaccine are expected to arrive in the country by May. A further 4million doses of the newly approved Novavax and 11million doses of the Valneva vaccine – which awaits marketing authorisation – have been ordered.

British prime minister Boris Johnson has held off any big changes, though has ordered working from home where possible and the wearing of masks in public spaces.

He is expected to make an announcement on post-Christmas Covid rules after the 25th.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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