UK vaccine watchdog boss explains who needs Covid booster jabs
UK vaccine scientist Professor Sir Andrew Pollard has warned that relying on regular Covid vaccines “is not affordable, sustainable or probably even needed” every four to six months to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Professor Pollard stated that there is currently not “full certainty” whether future boost jabs are required in the UK.
Citing the situation in Africa, and other areas where rollouts have been significantly slower, the vaccine scientist highlighted how people still haven’t been jabbed with one dose, let alone getting to the point where four doses is achievable.
“It really is not affordable, sustainable or probably even needed to vaccinate everyone on the planet every four to six months,” Professor Pollard stated.
While he conceded that some vulnerable sections of society might benefit from booster jabs, he stated that it is simply “unlikely” that a regular program will be implemented for “everyone over the age of 12.”
“We know people have strong antibodies for a few months after their third vaccine – but more data [is] needed to assess whether, when and how often those who are vulnerable will need additional doses,” the vaccine scientists added.
Professor Pollard, who serves as the chair of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, advises the government on its Covid jab strategy.
The UK’s minister for vaccines and public health, Maggie Throup, while not confirming the government’s plans, said officials would take the JCVI’s advice on rolling out a fourth dose. However, she stressed that, right now, it’s crucial to remain focused on the existing booster program and ensure everyone is, at least, double jabbed.
In December, the UK government extended the Covid booster jab scheme to anyone aged 18 and older, stating that giving people a third dose provided the best defense against Omicron and other potential future variants.