Politics

Vaccine watchdog boss warns it's 'not sustainable' to give jabs every six months


JCVI chairman Professor Andrew Pollard suggested inoculating people every six months was impractical

Regular boosters are not 'sustainable', according to JCVI chair Prof Andrew Pollard
Regular boosters are not ‘sustainable’, according to JCVI chair Prof Andrew Pollard

Regular Covid booster jabs are not “affordable, sustainable or deliverable”, the chairman of the Government’s vaccine advisory group has warned.

Israel has begun injecting over-60s and healthcare staff with a fourth shot.

But Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, who chairs the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), suggested inoculating people every six months was impractical.

“It’s just not – from a global perspective – affordable, sustainable or deliverable to give fourth doses to everyone on the planet every six months,” he told Sky News.

“Remember that, today, less than 10% of people in low-income countries have even had their first dose, so the whole idea of regular fourth doses globally is just not sensible.”







Professor Andrew Pollard, chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation
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Photos by John Cairns)

Prof Pollar, who is also the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, added: “Now, it may be that, as the science evolves, that we can work out who the most vulnerable are in populations and target future boosters to those individuals to maintain their protection.

“But for the vast majority of people who are vaccinated, the risk now is extremely low of severe Covid, for those who have had three doses, and it’s likely that we’ll reach a point where we’re focusing those booster doses on those who most need them.”

In a separate interview with the Telegraph, he expressed optimism going forward despite the spread of the Omicron strain.

“The worst is absolutely behind us. We just need to get through the winter,” he said.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said the Government would study any new advice from the JCVI but “it’s important that we concentrate on our programme at the moment, which is first dose, second dose and a booster.”

She added: “I think it’s important that we concentrate on our programme at the moment, which is first dose, second dose and boosters, and the JCVI are constantly looking at the clinical data, and if they give us advice, we’ll look at it seriously and decide whether it’s appropriate for our population.

“I think, at the moment, it’s amazing that over 75% of those who are eligible for their booster have come forward and over 90% of the population aged over 12 have now had their first dose, which is incredible.”

It comes as Boris Johnson admitted that the NHS faces “considerable” pressure from sky-high case numbers as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

Ministers will look again at the data today ahead of the return of Parliament tomorrow, when the Plan B measures on mask wearing indoors and working from home will be reviewed by MPs.







An expert in child health said the UK hadn’t “covered ourselves in glory” over the jabs rollout for teenagers
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POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pupils are being ordered to wear masks in the classroom on their return from the Christmas break in an attempt to curb further disruption to schooling.

Professor Russell Viner, an expert in child and adolescent health at UCL, said “we haven’t covered ourselves with glory” on vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds and admitted there had been some confused messaging.

He told the Today programme: “The vaccination for adults is quite a different proposition, that’s about protecting yourselves.

“We vaccinate teenagers largely… a little bit to protect them, but largely to reduce disruption to education and protect the broader population. That’s a much more difficult message to sell and there’ve been concerns about myocarditis, which means that our messaging has changed over time.

“That has to some extent confused the population, but I think the UK’s been really quite honest about the risks and the benefits of vaccinating teenagers in a way that perhaps has not driven the message home to our young people and their families in the way it could, but I think we have been honest.”

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