The UK government has released its plans for administering second booster injections against Covid-19 over the next few months.
It announced those aged 75 and above, people in care homes, and those 12 years and older with a weakened immune system will receive the jab this spring to protect those who are at extremely high risk against coronavirus.
Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued a press release stating this was part of a “precautionary strategy for 2022”.
“There remains considerably uncertainty with regards to the likelihood, timing and severity of any potential future wave of Covid-19 in the UK,” the organisation said.
“There may be a transition period of a few years before a stable pattern, such as a regular seasonal wave of infection, is established.”
Many of those in the high-risk categories received their booster vaccination around six months ago, which means their immunity is beginning to wane.
As the government has recently lifted Covid-19 restrictions and the presence of the virus remains, this booster rollout will protect against the most vulnerable becoming seriously ill, needing hospitalisation or even dying, should they contract it.
Other vulnerable people, such as those in the older age bracket or in clinical risk groups, will be given their second booster in the autumn, as viruses tend to spread more during the wintertime, which means the greatest threat of Covid-19 will be when the colder months return.
However, it is unclear whether the vaccine booster will be available for the wider general public, with the JCVI stating: “As an increasing proportion of the population experiences and recovers from milder, non-severe COVID-19 infection, the role of natural immunity (level, breadth and duration of protection and its interaction with vaccine-induced immunity) will become increasingly relevant as well.”
The organisation will continue to review the evidence to determine what the best programme of vaccination will be.
Research into the effectiveness of vaccines, particularly against emerging variants of coronavirus, will continue. This has been demonstrated by the government’s recent pledge of £10 million for research projects to prevent other potential epidemics in developing countries.
The funding, which comes from the government’s UK Vaccine Network, will go towards 22 initiatives that support the development of inoculations against the likes of Ebola, Zika, Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, Lassa Fever and Chikungunya virus.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid stated the recent pandemic showed the world the importance of research projects such as this.
“I am delighted that these innovative projects – tackling serious and deadly diseases – will receive the funding they need to take their research to the next stage,” he commented.
The UKVN has already committed £115 million to 78 projects, the likes of which Mr Javid stated, “continue to save millions of lives”.
In addition to this, the UK bilaterally donated one million vaccinations to Bangladesh last month to help the country fight against the virus.
This recent donation follows more than four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which was given to Bangladesh in December 2021, which the British High Commissioner HE Robert Chatterton Dickson remarked “strengthens our commitment to stand with the people of Bangladesh to recover faster and build a healthier and prosperous future”.
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