The UK has agreed to purchase 35 million extra doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a strategy to “future-proof” the jabs programme.
It comes as the federal government prepares to roll out booster photographs from subsequent month – whereas the top of the World Well being Organisation (WHO) has mentioned such photographs ought to be delayed to lift vaccination charges globally.
The coronavirus vaccines, which will likely be delivered from the second half of subsequent yr, will even assist the nation put together for any new variants that would emerge.
“Whereas we proceed to construct this wall of defence from COVID-19, it is also very important we do every part we are able to to guard the nation for the long run too – whether or not that is from the virus as we all know it or new variants,” Well being Secretary Sajid Javid mentioned.
“I’m happy we have reached this settlement with Pfizer for extra doses as a part of our strong preparations to future-proof our vaccine programme, making certain we’ve got plans in place to maintain the nation secure for years to come back.”
Some 95,200 lives have been saved by COVID-19 vaccines, in accordance with the newest knowledge from Public Well being England and Cambridge College. They’ve prevented 82,100 hospitalisations and 23.9 million infections in England alone.
No official determination has been given but on a possible rollout of third doses, however plans are in place to allow a booster programme to start in early September, alongside the flu jab, if suggested.
Nonetheless, the director of the WHO, Tedros Abhanom Ghebreyesus, mentioned nations’ booster photographs ought to be delayed by two months as a way to elevate vaccination charges in nations the place only one% or 2% of the inhabitants has been inoculated.
Mr Ghebreyesus warned stronger variants of coronavirus may develop if vaccination charges usually are not raised globally.
He mentioned vaccines supposed as booster photographs ought to be donated to nations the place individuals haven’t acquired their first or second doses.
“As well as, there’s a debate about whether or not booster photographs are efficient in any respect,” Mr Ghebreyesus informed a information convention throughout a go to to Budapest in Hungary.
These with compromised immune techniques ought to get a booster shot, although they signify solely a small proportion of the inhabitants, he added.
Final week, the WHO mentioned present knowledge doesn’t point out COVID-19 booster photographs are wanted and that probably the most susceptible individuals worldwide ought to be absolutely vaccinated earlier than high-income nations deploy a top-up.
The US introduced final week that it plans to make COVID-19 booster photographs obtainable from 20 September amid an increase in infections from the Delta variant.
Asserting the UK’s settlement with Pfizer-BioNTech, Mr Javid mentioned the UK is “dedicated to supporting international restoration from the COVID-19 pandemic and bettering entry to vaccines” and will likely be donating 100 million doses inside the subsequent yr. It got here after the UK introduced the donation of the primary 9 million doses final month.
Mr Javid additionally mentioned: “The UK can be one of many largest donors to the COVAX facility, the worldwide mechanism to assist growing nations entry a coronavirus vaccine, and has dedicated £548m in UK help to assist distribute 1.3 billion doses to 92 growing nations this yr.
“The federal government is making ready for a booster programme this yr to make sure these most susceptible to COVID-19 are protected. The booster programme will likely be primarily based on the ultimate recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), anticipated in September.”