Booster jabs for the over-50s put on hold as scientists nervous about incoming data


Experts advising the Government are understood to be holding off on their final recommendations until the major Cov-Boost trial reports its findings. Around 3,000 people have been recruited to test combinations of seven Covid-19 vaccines that could be used for third doses. The findings will help inform who should get what and when.

People with weakened immune systems – who may not have had a strong response to the first two jabs – are expected to be first.

It is unclear whether all over-50s will be offered an extra jab ahead of winter, or only the most vulnerable. The wait means that although the NHS has been preparing to deliver booster shots from September 6, the programme may not begin until several days later.

And some experts have argued that the UK should not dish out third doses at all when other countries are still waiting for first doses.

However, other nations are pressing ahead despite opposition from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Yesterday Israel began offering a booster shot to anyone who has been fully vaccinated more than five months ago.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the programme was slowing a rise in severe illness caused by the Delta variant.

He added: “We have to complete third doses for all of our citizens. I call on those aged 12 and up to go out and immediately take the third shot.” In the UK, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is continuing to monitor evidence on whether children should be offered jabs.

Currently only teenagers aged 16-17 are routinely being offered first doses, but the NHS is preparing to administer doses to those aged 12-15 in schools from next months if new advice is issued.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus (APPG) yesterday called for better protection in schools before term starts.

It said current guidance focused on steps that should be taken when there is an outbreak, without enough attention paid to preventing cases in the first place.

Layla Moran, Lib-Dem MP and chair of the APPG, said: “True to form, the Government has abdicated responsibility, leaving it to schools to interpret broad recommendations and failing to provide resources so schools can invest in preventative measures.

“The Education Secretary must provide measurable guidance and resources so that schools can remain open safely, the most
vulnerable are protected and that no child is left behind.”

She spoke as 33,196 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed across the UK yesterday, along with 61 deaths. The Government’s data dashboard also showed 240,500 new cases in the last seven days –up 5.8 percent compared to the previous week’s total.

The number of deaths in the last week was 797, up 16 percent on the week before. More than 48 million people have had their first jab and 42.6 million their second.



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