Caroline Nicholls receives an injection of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine given by nurse Amy Nash at Madeisky Stadium in Reading, England on April 13, 2021.
Steve Parsons | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON – People over 40 in the UK will be eligible for a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine from Monday.
The extension of the revaccination program was announced by the country’s medical regulators at a press briefing on Monday morning.
Until now, only people over 50 years old and people with underlying medical conditions were eligible for revaccination.
As with the existing UK booster rollout, new eligible people over 40 will have to wait six months from their second shot before they can receive a third dose.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, both of which use mRNA technology, are being used in the UK booster program.
Regulators also announced on Monday that adolescents 16 and 17, who were originally eligible for only a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, will now be offered a second dose.
The UK reported 36,517 new cases of Covid on Sunday, with cases up 6% in the past seven days from a week earlier. The number of cases is down from the huge number seen in October, but the country still has one of the highest infection rates in the world.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief physician, said the revaccination program is progressing “at a significant pace” and provides “over 90% protection against symptomatic infection.”
Data from Israel, where boosters were introduced in July and are now available to anyone over the age of 12, shows that over the age of 60, a third dose results in a 10-fold reduction in Covid infections, an 18.7-fold decrease in hospital admissions. and a 14.7-fold decrease in mortality, according to Van-Tam.
“So I believe that if the revaccination program is successful with very high coverage, we can significantly reduce anxiety about hospitalization and death due to Covid at Christmas and for the remainder of this winter for literally millions of people,” he told reporters. … “It really is that simple and decisive.”
Wang Tam also noted that immunity from the first two doses of the vaccine faded over time, especially in the elderly and people with medical conditions.
“The decreasing signal, although smaller, also begins to appear in the range from 40 to 49 seconds. Without the promotion, I would not have expected it to be static, I would have expected it to increase, ”he said.
June Raine, CEO of the UK’s Medicines Regulatory Agency MHRA, said in a press conference on Monday that Covid vaccines continue to have “an exceptionally positive balance of benefit and risk.”
“Since the booster doses began to be distributed, we have not found any new safety issues,” she said.
Meanwhile, Lim Wei Shen, a member of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunizations, added that the booster dose “significantly enhances existing protection and will extend the duration of this protection against serious diseases.”
“Therefore, we urge people who are eligible for a booster to step up, get a booster and maximize their protection,” he said.
Pfizer research has shown that the immunity gained from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine peaks between one week and two months after the second dose. Then it decreases by an average of 6% every two months. Meanwhile, a UK study found that immunity from the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which about 82% efficiency after the first two shots, it dropped to 67% four to five months after the second dose.
A number of countries, including Israel, France and Germany, have launched some form of revaccination program.
In the US, the FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccines for seniors and at-risk adults six months after their first two doses.
Last week, Pfizer asked the FDA to extend this policy so that all adults over 18 are eligible for a third dose.