WHO calls for action as Europe coronavirus cases rise
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Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said he is “very confident” there will be a booster programme, in a bid to avoid a winter lockdown. Evidence indicates the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines could wane over time, leading to calls for vulnerable Britons to receive a third dose.
Other advanced economies, such as Israel and the United States, are already widely administering third doses in a bid to control the pandemic.
However writing in the Daily Telegraph Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, and Sir Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President of BioPharmaceuticals R&D, urged caution.
They argued giving third vaccines will make it harder for scientists to assess whether two doses would have worked.
Mr Soriot and Sir Mene said: “A third dose for all may be needed, but it may not.
“Mobilising the NHS for a boosting program that is not needed would potentially add unnecessary burden on the NHS over the long winter months.
“Because NHS staff and resources are scarce, another national mobilisation would potentially leave us with fewer resources for cancer screenings and the other care provided by doctors and nurses each day.”
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has suggested around 35 million Britons could receive a third jab.
There are reports the offer will be made to all UK residents over 50, if medical advisors approve.
Coronavirus is known to be significantly more dangerous, both in terms of deaths and hospitalisations, to older age groups.
The Government is waiting for advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) before it makes its decision.
This is expected to become available in the next few days.
Currently, only 500,000 Britons with very weak immune systems, have been told they will get a third jab.
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Over 80 percent of the UK population aged over-16 have now received two coronavirus vaccines.
This rises to 88.8 percent when those who have only had their first dose are included.
The JCVI has not recommended the Government extend its vaccine programme to those aged 12-15 on health grounds alone.
However, the subject is currently being discussed by the UK’s four chief medical officers, who are aiming to take a wider view.
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There are fears of major disruption to schooling over the autumn and winter unless the vaccine programme is expanded to those aged 12-15.
Speaking to Sky News Mr Javid said the final decision will be made “in the coming days”.
He also suggested children may be able to get vaccinated even if their parents object.
The minister commented: “If there is a difference of opinion between the child and the parent then we have specialists that work in this area, the schools vaccination service.
“They would usually literally sit down with the parent and the child, and try to reach some kind of consensus.
“If ultimately that doesn’t work, as long as we believe that the child is competent enough to make this decision then the child will prevail.”
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