UK Expands Trials on ‘Third Jab’ Coronavirus Vax Booster Shots

A health worker points out bottles of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre at the Hunter Street Health Centre in London on June 5, 2021. - The UK government are set to decide on June 14 whether their plan to completely lift coronavirus restrictions will go ahead as …
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A new UK hospital has joined the ongoing clinical trials investigating the impact of a third coronavirus jab, which the British public, the government has indicated, will likely be asked to take come the autumn or winter.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge has become the latest in the UK of a growing number of NHS sites giving volunteers a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine in an effort to understand which shot would be best to administer if, and when, the re-vaccination campaign begins, the BBC reports. In all, 3,000 people are to receive extra doses from one of the seven coronavirus vaccines.

The Cov-Boost research programme’s statement notes: “Millions of people have now received their first 2 vaccinations, which we call a “prime-boost” course… Whilst these have been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe disease due to COVID-19, we don’t know how long the immune protection from vaccination will last.

“In addition, variants of the virus which causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) have emerged with mutations which might make the immune response from vaccination less effective. It is therefore likely that additional, “booster” vaccinations might be needed for high risk groups after a period of time to provide added protection.”

Associate professor of paediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford Dr Matthew Snape said at the time of the programme’s launch in May that it was the first research project of its kind in the world.

At the moment the UK government has proclaimed its goal — and has even tied the end of lockdown to — getting a significant proportion of the adult population “fully vaccinated” with two jabs. But in tandem with that widely-publicised goal, the government has also made clear that is believes a third shot and possibly more in future could be required.

Britain’s vaccine minister Nadim Zahawi made this point as long ago as February, when he said there would “very much probably” be a coronavirus vaccine booster push in Autumn and then another jab annually, tailored to new variants as they become prevalent. In this regard, the minister likened the coronavirus vaccination programme to the flu boosters older people in Britain have every year before the winter.

That the government was preparing for a third wave of shots was underlined in May when the UK authorised the Johnson & Johnson ‘Jansen’ vaccine, which it has 20 million doses of on order. At the time of the authorisation, British health secretary Matt Hancock said the new order was “potentially” going to be used for third dose jabs later in the year.

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