UK extends COVID vaccine boost program amid winter fears
London British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Monday of a “snow storm” of new coronavirus infections coming to the UK from continental Europe, as his government expanded a vaccine booster program for young people in an effort to control the epidemic during the winter months.
The Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization, the independent body of scientists that makes vaccine recommendations to the British government, said people aged 40 to 49 would also be eligible for a booster six months after the initial shot. Until now, people 50 years of age or older, as well as those considered at risk in the younger age groups, were eligible for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine boosters.
The committee said second doses were also approved for children aged 16 to 17 12 weeks after their first intake.
Expanding the boosted campaign and offering a second hit to older teens “will help extend our protection into 2022,” she said.
Johnson urged people to get the booster for an extra level of protection amid growing concerns about the outlook for the virus in Europe after new lockdowns in Austria and the Netherlands.
“What we definitely have to realize is that there’s a storm of infection out there in parts of Europe, you can see those numbers increase very sharply in some of our continental friends,” he said. I realize that there is always the danger of a snowstorm coming from the east again, as the months get colder.”
Over the past few months, the UK has recorded relatively high levels of coronavirus infections after most restrictions were lifted.
Although cases have been steadily declining in recent weeks, there have been signs over the past few days that they are coming back up again, especially among students. Over the past week, there have been more than 260,000 confirmed infections, up 6% from the previous week.
The government has so far resisted reimposing restrictions such as wearing masks in enclosed spaces or introducing passports for vaccinations.
Johnson said there was currently nothing in the data to indicate a need to increase restrictions in England, under Contingency Plan B. The number of people in hospital with the virus is about 8,500, although its high is well below the almost 40,000 in January. . The virus-related deaths are about 150 per day.
He said, “What happens is if you can have a booster, your immunity goes back to 95%. So now we have 75% of everyone over 70 who gets a booster dose, and there are a lot of people, but the extra 25% is That will make a huge difference in winter, at Christmas, and in our plans going forward, because it’s that extra level of protection that we really need.”
The expansion of the boosted program comes as a new study from Health Security UK shows that adults over 50 have a 93% lower risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms after at least two weeks.
“The booster dose significantly enhances existing protection and will extend the duration of that protection against critical diseases,” said Professor Wei Shen Lim, head of the JCVI COVID-19 immunization programme.
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