Vaccine: Zahawi says UK can rollout 'four million doses a week'
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Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has suggested a booster jab may be needed in August or September ahead of the winter season. The JVCI was tasked by the Government to come up with the priority list for the rollout of the jab, which has seen more than 22 million people given their first dose.
More than 1.1 million people in the UK have now been administered both doses – which are given around 12 weeks apart.
Professor Harnden insisted an extra layer of protection could prepare the UK for a “large third wave affecting the vulnerable elderly”.
He added the emergence of new variants means it is “likely” the JVCI will make the recommendation for a third jab and warned not doing so could have worse consequences.
He told the British Medical Journal: “We certainly don’t want to see a winter like we’ve seen this winter, and if we’ve got new variants circulating and we’ve got dropping levels of immunity due to the vaccination, then that becomes an imperative to do a booster.
“I think we’re likely to make a bold decision to recommend a booster dose, even if we haven’t got all the evidence of the necessity, just because I think the consequences of not immunising with the booster dose are so big.
“If it’s proved that it’s needed months later it may be too late.”
Professor Sir Ian Diamond, head of the Office for National Statistics, said he has “no doubt” there will be a further wave of coronavirus infections in the autumn.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sir Ian hailed the success of the vaccination programme, but acknowledged the data suggested there was “regional variation” in the amount of antibodies people have from the virus.
He said: “We need also to recognise that this is a virus that isn’t going to go away.
“And I have no doubt that in the autumn there will be a further wave of infections,”
Earlier this week, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Whitty, warned of another wave of infections.
Appearing in front of the science and technology committee alongside chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, he said: “As things are opening up, what all the modelling suggests is that at some point we will get a surge in virus.
“Whether that happens, we hope it doesn’t happen soon, but it might for example happen later in the summer if we open up gradually, or if there’s a seasonal effect it might happen over the next autumn or winter.
“But I think all the modelling suggests there is going to be a further surge and that will find the people who have either not been vaccinated or where the vaccine’s not worked.”
Boris Johnson has outlined a plan to remove all coronavirus restrictions in England by June 21.
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Speaking at a virtual Scottish Conservative conference, the Prime Minister was confident normality would return sooner rather than later.
He said: “In the coming months we will beat Covid – we will vaccinate everyone in our country and we will be able to remove restrictions.
“In the not-too-distant future, we will be able to reopen businesses, see friends in each other’s houses and hold our loved ones again.”
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