UK considers booster jab to combat South African COVID-19 variant

UK considers booster jab to combat South African COVID-19 variant

London: Britain on Monday indicated that scientists are exploring the possibility of an additional booster jab for later in the year in order to tackle any COVID-19 variants that may try to escape the immunity levels provided by the current vaccination programme, such as the South African variant.

UK Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said a "booster in autumn" could be required but urged the public to have full confidence in the vaccines currently being administered in the country the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca which have now covered 12 million people in the highest risk categories.

"Our brilliant scientists and medical advisers are now working on the potential for new versions of existing vaccines to offer further protections against COVID-19 variants," said Zahawi, writing in 'The Daily Telegraph'. "But we should bear in mind that recent studies show the vaccines being deployed right now across the UK appear to work well against the COVID-19 variants currently dominant in the UK.

"In terms of other variants, not in the UK, we need to be aware that even where a vaccine has reduced efficacy in preventing infection there may still be good efficacy against severe disease, hospitalisation, and death. This is vitally important for protecting the healthcare system," he said. His intervention came as a small sample study conducted with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which also has a tie-up with the Serum Institute of India, found in South Africa that it may not be as effective in preventing mild to moderate COVID-19 against the local variant. However, experts have stressed that the vaccine's protection against severe disease and death remains


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