UK plans to give third Covid jab for over-50s in autumn


The UK government is planning to give a third Covid vaccine shot to everyone above 50s in the autumn in a bid to remove the threat from Covid-19 infections entirely by Christmas, the media reported on Wednesday.

The country is mulling two options: one involves vaccines specifically modified to tackle new variants; the second is for a third shot of either Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines that are already approved for use in the UK, The Times reported.

Early findings from trials have raised hopes in the Government that the two approaches can nullify the threat from existing and new variants, the report said. The jab would only be given to higher risk populations above 50 and those with underlying health conditions. Moreover, the third shot will be offered along with the annual flu jab.

“We will have a lot to say about the booster programme soon. It’s looking really positive so far,”a senior government minister was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

“We think that the level of protection in the population to any variant will be so high that by Christmas, Covid-19 should have just faded away into the background like any other illness in circulation. So much so that we don’t think there will be any need to give a booster shot to younger people because transmission will have got so low,” the minister added.

According to the UK government statistics, more than 34.6 million Britons have been given a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine till Tuesday.

Britain, which has a population of 67 million, has deals for over 510 million doses of eight different Covid-19 vaccines, some of which remain under development.

The UK will buy 60 million more doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, health minister Matt Hancock said last week, in a deal that more than doubles the country’s supply of the shot ahead of a booster programme later this year. Britain has now ordered a total of 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one of three Covid-19 shots being rolled out in the country, the report said.