English official says she is hopeful COVID vaccine protection will not wane quickly

COVID-19 booster shots might be needed to protect against new variants but might not be necessary to sustain immunity as high protection offered by current vaccines looks unlikely to wane quickly, an English health official said. British officials have been planning for the possibility of a booster campaign later in the year after targeting initial protection for the whole adult population by the summer, with almost 34 million people having already received a first shot.


Reuters | Updated: 28-04-2021 17:43 IST | Created: 28-04-2021 17:43 IST
English official says she is hopeful COVID vaccine protection will not wane quickly

COVID-19 booster shots might be needed to protect against new variants but might not be necessary to sustain immunity as high protection offered by current vaccines looks unlikely to wane quickly, an English health official said.

British officials have been planning for the possibility of a booster campaign later in the year after targeting initial protection for the whole adult population by the summer, with almost 34 million people having already received a first shot. As the duration of immunity is studied, Pfizer and the United States have both highlighted that annual shots might be needed, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has likened COVID boosters to flu shots.

However Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out are much more effective than she expected a year ago, and offer better protection than most flu shots. "There are very high levels of protection. So in fact waning may not be happening as quickly as we might have predicted," Ramsay told lawmakers on Wednesday.

"The issue is probably going to more come down to variants, and the protection against variants, in terms of when we do (boosters), rather than the expectation that we're going to see a rapid decline in protection." Britain has said that the ideal booster may be a new vaccine specifically designed against a variant of the coronavirus, and AstraZeneca has said it aims for a new shot to tackle variants by the autumn.

Ramsay said it was likely that elderly and vulnerable people would receive regular boosters, but they might not be as often as flu shots, adding it was too soon to say what any booster programme would look like this year. "There is still a lot of uncertainty whether a variant vaccine will be needed, (and) if so, which variants, whether we can mix vaccines, whether we can give vaccines with alongside flu," she said.

"All of these things are under active study now... We do just have to watch this space." Britain has recorded more than 127,000 deaths, the fifth highest death toll globally.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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