The Government have announced their decision to offer a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (a ‘booster’) to around 30 million people, including all over-50s, younger adults with health conditions and frontline health and social care workers, as part of their plans to control the pandemic through the winter. This decision comes after advice from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that the most vulnerable people should receive a third dose to help maintain protection against COVID-19.The British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement in response.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology said:
“While we are entering a new era of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk posed by serious disease is certainly not yet over and we need careful planning to ensure the safety of the population while minimising the impact of the pandemic throughout the autumn and winter.
“In the absence of long term evidence of immunity, offering a booster COVID-19 vaccination to those most vulnerable to COVID-19 will likely provide additional protection from the virus for many across the UK. Booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been tested in clinical studies and have been found to be safe and effective at boosting the immune response.
“To inform all future decisions around vaccine use, it is crucial that we continue to collect and scrutinise data on the durability of protection provided by these vaccines and on other important unanswered questions. We still do not yet fully understand the relationship between the immune response generated by COVID-19 vaccines and effective protection against the virus, and how long that immunity lasts. Through supporting ongoing and future research studies we will be best informed as to how we can most effectively live with this virus.
“It is also key that we ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated against COVID-19 as this is the best way to prevent severe disease and the spread of the virus. Although there has been a high uptake of the vaccines in the UK so far, a significant number of people still need to come forward for a first or second dose. We must not take our foot off the gas and continue to make every effort to reach these people and encourage them to come forward for a COVID-19 vaccination.
“The UK government has made this decision regarding boosters though this pandemic is not restricted to UK shores. We must redouble efforts to make COVID-19 vaccines available around the world as this is the most effective way to both protect people as well as prevent the emergence of new variants.”