Booster vaccines may not be required for everyone in the UK and introducing third doses too quickly would be an “unnecessary burden” for the NHS, the head of AstraZeneca said.
In a letter in the Daily Telegraph with Sir Mene Pangalos, the company’s Executive Vice President of Biopharmaceuticals R&D, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot urged the government to be patient, stressing that the UK was “a few weeks” away from a definitive answer on the effectiveness of two Doses to provide “sustained protective immunity”.
They said, “If we move too quickly to increase the total adult population, that knowledge will be withheld from us and this important decision will be based on limited data. A third dose for all may but may not be needed.
“Mobilizing the NHS into an unneeded replenishment program would potentially burden the NHS unnecessarily during the long winter months. With the NHS manpower and resources scarce, further national mobilization would potentially leave us with fewer resources for cancer screenings and the other. “Daily care by doctors and nurses.”
Their comments come after Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told MPs that a vaccine refreshment program “is ready” once the scientific advice for the program is signed.
More than half a million people with severely weakened immune systems, who are most at risk from Covid-19, will be offered an additional dose of vaccine starting this month on the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI).
However, this announcement is independent of any decision on a booster program, and news on this is expected shortly.
Mr Zahawi added that he hopes the virus can be fought “year after year” without having to take the “heavy measures” from last December, and told BBC Breakfast, “Vaccines have given us the opportunity to get infections reduce and save 100,000 lives.
“I hope that through the booster program we can transform the virus from pandemic to endemic status and deal with it year after year. It will be with us for many years – but we don’t have to shut down our economy or take the tough measures that we unfortunately had to take last December. “
The UK Chief Medical Officers are currently exploring the other benefits of vaccinating 12-15 year olds, such as:
A total of 668 deaths recorded in the week of August 27 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the highest number since 719 deaths was recorded in the week of March 26.
The latest numbers show the impact of the third wave of Covid-19, which began in the UK in May, but the death toll is still well below the level at the peak of the second wave.
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