UK extends Covid booster vaccines to the over-40s

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  • The expansion of the booster program was announced by the country’s medical regulators in a press briefing on Monday morning.
  • Until now, only people over 50 and those with underlying health conditions were eligible for a booster shot.
  • With the UK’s current booster rollout, newly eligible over 40s will have to wait six months to receive their second shot before receiving a third dose.

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LONDON: People over the age of 40 in the UK will be eligible for a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Monday.

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The expansion of the booster program was announced by the country’s medical regulators in a press briefing on Monday morning.

Until now, only people over 50 and those with underlying health conditions were eligible for a booster shot.

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With the UK’s current booster rollout, newly eligible over 40s will have to wait six months to receive their second shot before receiving a third dose.

Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, which both use mRNA technology, are being used in the UK’s booster programme.

Regulators also announced on Monday that 16- and 17-year-olds, who were initially eligible for only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, would now be offered a second dose.

The UK reported 36,517 new Covid infections on Sunday, with cases in the past seven days increasing by 6% from a week earlier. The cases have come down from the large numbers seen in October, but the country still has the highest rate of infection in the world.

Speaking at Monday’s press conference, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said the booster program was progressing “at a considerable pace” and achieving “over 90% protection against symptomatic infection”.

Data from Israel – where the boosters were introduced in July and are now available to everyone over the age of 12 – show that in those over 60, the third dose leads to a tenfold reduction in COVID infections, in hospital There is a decrease of 18.7 times in recruitment. And according to Van-Tam, the death rate has decreased by 14.7 times.

He told reporters, “So, I believe that if the booster program is successful to a great extent, we can reduce the worry about hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID over Christmas and this winter.” for literally millions of people for the rest of the day,” he told reporters. , “It really is that simple and conclusive.”

weak immunity

Van-Tam also noted that there was clear immunity from the initial two doses of the vaccine over time, especially in older adults and those with health conditions.

“The decreasing signal, while small, is starting to show even in the 40s to 49s. Without boosting, I wouldn’t expect it to stabilize, I would expect it to increase,” he said.

British drug regulator MHRA CEO June Raine said in a press conference on Monday that there is an “extremely positive benefit-risk balance” in COVID vaccines.

“Since the booster dose has been introduced, we have not identified any new safety concerns,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lim Wei Shen, a member of the UK’s Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization, said the booster dose “clearly strengthens existing protection and will extend the duration of that protection against serious disease.”

“That’s why we urge those who are eligible for a booster to be your booster and maximize your safety,” he said.

Research from Pfizer has shown that immunity from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine peaks between one week and two months after the second dose. Then it drops by an average of 6% every two months. Meanwhile, a UK study showed that immunity to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is about 82% effective After the first two shots, that dropped to 67% four to five months after the second dose.

Several countries, including Israel, France and Germany, have initiated some form of vaccine booster program.

In the US, the FDA has approved booster shots of the Pfizer-BioEntech vaccine for the elderly and at-risk adults six months after their initial two doses.

Last week, Pfizer asked the FDA to expand that policy so that all adults over the age of 18 would be eligible for a third dose.

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