Will there be a fourth Covid jab?

Anti-vaxxer berates people queuing for Covid booster

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Brits have been urged to get their booster jabs to combat the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. According to data from the Government’s coronavirus dashboard, as of Monday, January 3, 51.8 million Brits had received their first dose of the Covid vaccine, 47.4 million have had their second and a further 34.2 million have been jabbed with a booster or third dose.

Some countries have debated a fourth dose of the vaccine, with Israel soon to roll out the next jab.

Israelis aged 60 and over are to be offered a fourth Covid vaccine, making Israel the first country to offer another dose.

Germany is not far behind, with health officials discussing the best options for a fourth jab.

But will there be a fourth Covid vaccine in the UK?

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As yet, there are no concrete plans for a fourth jab in the UK, with the Prime Minister focused on urging those eligible to get a third dose.

The chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has warned against the prospect of a fourth jab, which has been approved for certain age groups in other countries.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard has said the vulnerable should be targeted for any further inoculation rounds, and continually boosting the majority of the British public is not sustainable.

He cautioned against following Israel and Germany, which have both signed off on a second set of boosters to all over-60s.

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Professor Pollard said: “The future must be focusing on the vulnerable and making boosters or treatments available to them to protect them.”

“We know that people have strong antibodies for a few months after their third vaccination, but more data are needed to assess whether, when and how often those who are vulnerable will need additional doses.”

Professor Pollard argued in favour of opening society back up, citing the unsustainability of a consistent worldwide vaccine drive.

The JCVI expert added: “We can’t vaccinate the planet every four to six months.

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“It’s not sustainable or affordable. In the future, we need to target the vulnerable.”

Professor Pollard also suggested misinformation regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, which he helped develop, was espoused by European leader Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.

He said their decisions were “highly likely” to have cost lives in Africa after both countries stopped use of the vaccine due to the extremely rare occurrence of blood clots in some recipients.

His recommendations come as a Covid vaccine booster aimed at tackling multiple variants shows promise in inducing a comprehensive immune response, early data suggests.

A trial launched in Manchester in September 2021 has yielded results showing strong levels of antibodies in ten individuals.

Professor Andrew Ustianowski, honorary clinical chairman at the University of Manchester and chief investigator for the study, said: “It is increasingly apparent that a focus on T-cell immunity is an important way to generate the robust and durable immunity that may prevent future Sars-CoV-2 variants from causing severe disease, hospitalisation, and death.”

He added: “We know the immune response to first generation vaccines can wane, particularly in older people.

“Coupled with the prevalence of emerging variants, there is a clear need for continued vigilance to keep Covid-19 at bay.

“We believe this vaccine, as a booster, will elicit strong, durable, and broad immune responses, which may well be likely to be critical in maintaining protection of this vulnerable elderly population who are particularly at risk of hospitalisation and death.”

Some 132 million coronavirus vaccinations were given in 2021, with more than 1.6 million people getting boosted in the last week of January.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges our health service has ever faced and our historic vaccination programme has been vital in helping us step up to meet this challenge.

“132 million vaccinations in a single year is astounding and a true reflection of the fantastic work of our NHS and its volunteers – I want to thank each and every one of them.

“But we need to make sure people continue to come forward for their life saving jab.

“As we go into the New Year, make sure you Get Boosted Now to kick off 2022 with the best possible protection from Omicron.”

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