UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced plans to offer a booster vaccine to everyone age 50 and older as part of a winter coronavirus strategy – plunging Britain into a growing debate over whether Should low-income countries get the shot first?
The prime minister is taking steps to try to prevent a new surge in cases weighing heavily on the National Health Service, and to avoid another lockdown in a country weary of the pandemic and earlier measures that included some of the world’s strictest restrictions are included.
Additional vaccine doses will begin next week to older members, healthcare workers and people with underlying health conditions across the UK, aiming to give people over 50 a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, regardless of the vaccine. One person received earlier, by the end of the year. Most people in the UK have received two-shot vaccines from the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines. The decision was taken following an announcement on Monday that a vaccine shot would be given to healthy children aged 12 to 15 years.
Speaking at a Downing Street media conference, Mr Johnson hailed the vaccination campaign for the production, saying he was “one of the freest societies and one of the most open economies in Europe.”
However the decision puts the UK among a growing group of countries that are offering booster shots to their own citizens before many people across large parts of the world receive a single dose. The World Health Organization has warned that offering booster shots to rich countries could remove vaccines from poorer countries, which require doses, and last week urged governments not to offer boosters to healthy patients until at least the end of the year. called upon.
“I’m a little upset, frankly, to hear that Britain is going to have a booster when it’s going to get a really precious vaccine from people from other parts of the world who can’t get their original two doses, and So there is going to be a risk of death,” David Nabarro, a special covid envoy for the World Health Organization, told Times Radio.
Despite the flurry of booster programs in affluent countries, the science of whether most healthy people need them is not yet clear.
Some studies suggest that the protection that vaccines provide against infection and mild illness may be reduced. But they remain highly effective at preventing the worst outcomes, including serious illness and death, and scientists have said a blanket recommendation for boosters is premature.
Experts generally agree, however, that a third shot is necessary for people with compromised immune systems who have not had a strong immune response to the initial dose. WHO officials are not opposed to additional doses for the immunocompromised, and several countries, including the United States, are now offering additional shots to this vulnerable group. Britain has also issued an official advisory to give the group extra shots.
In the United States, there is a heated debate over the use of boosters for most people. The Biden administration announced in August a proposal to start administering the vaccine booster eight months after people got a second shot, but some scientists have opposed it, saying the vaccine has already caused serious illness and hospitalization for many people. save from.
The UK now has an average of around 30,000 new coronavirus cases and About 1,000 hospital admissions every dayAccording to government figures. And while that’s far less than the 100,000 cases estimated by some experts, government officials know another surge is possible as children return to school and the weather worsens during the fall and winter.
Officials in the UK have wanted to avoid such restrictions for months blocked People are preventing family and friends from seeing even most outdoor environments, as well as preventing another frightening winter like the one that devastated the country last year.
While the government has not ruled out another lockdown outright, it has presented it as a last resort, which will only be considered when England face a new and highly transitory version.
“When you have a large part of the country, as we have now, small changes can make a big difference and give us confidence that we don’t need to go back to the lockdowns of the past,” Mr Johnson he said.
Mr Johnson also said the government was preparing a “Plan B” as a contingency in cases that lead to a significant increase in cases, as some experts fear they will be in the winter months. This includes reintroducing the requirement to wear face coverings in indoor places and on public transport, and advising people to work from home when possible.
On Sunday the government said it would not go ahead with a vaccine passport scheme that would have forced nightclubs and some other places in England to check the status of those trying to enter. But the option of reviving the strategy is kept open if the situation worsens.