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Pfizer and AstraZeneca approved as booster COVID vaccines

Published on 10/09/21 at 09:48am

The MHRA has approved the use of Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines for the planned booster programme this winter.

However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are yet to decided if they are needed, and also who would be eligible for a third jab.

The JCVI has already said a third dose should be offered to people with severely weakened immune systems, and there are up to half a million people over the age of 12 in the UK are in this group.

The booster programme would aim to increase protection against COVID-19 infections for those most at risk, however, there is still ongoing debate over whether a third dose would be necessary.

Bosses at AstraZeneca have said that moving too quickly with the booster programme would deprive scientists of data on how well the vaccines work.

In an article in the Telegraph, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot and Biopharmaceuticals Research and Development Executive Vice President, Sir Mene Pangalos, said that giving the most vulnerable, who may not have built up a full immune response from the first two, a third top-up dose is "sensible". But any decision to give a third, booster jab "to large swathes of the population", to extend their protection from the first two, must be based on clinical data, which is only a few weeks away from being published.

"Moving too quickly to boost across the entire adult population will deprive us of these insights, leaving this important decision to rest on limited data," Mr Soriot and Sir Mene wrote.

"We don't know what mix of antibodies and T-cells are needed to prevent serious illness - the so-called correlates of protection.

"This is why we need the weight of the clinical evidence gathered from real-world use before we can make an informed decision on a third dose."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said, on Wednesday, he was "confident" a booster programme could begin this month but was awaiting advice on who should be eligible.

Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA, said: "I am pleased to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses.

"This is an important regulatory change, as it gives further options for the vaccination programme, which has saved thousands of lives so far."

Kat Jenkins

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