The UK has confirmed it will roll out booster Covid-19 vaccine jabs later this year to counter new variants as 10m people have now received two doses of the vaccine.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs today that the UK had procured enough vaccine doses to provide booster shots to everyone in the country and that the government would work with suppliers to “work out which vaccines will be effective as a booster shot and to design new vaccines specifically targeted at the variants of concern”.
As of midnight last night more than 33m people in the UK had received their first vaccine and more than 10m had received their second jab.
However, there are fears new variants that are resistant to the some of the vaccines could derail the rollout.
The government has said in the past that pharmaceutical companies are working on booster jabs that will be able to protect against new Covid variants, such as the South African strain.
Hancock said today that the UK had experience in administering booster jabs for new variants of the flu each year.
“As we complete the programme of first and second jabs, we’re ramping up plans for a booster shot to make sure our vaccines stay ahead of the virus,” he said.
“We’ve already procured enough vaccine doses to begin the booster shots later this year.
“We’ll be working with our current vaccine suppliers and new suppliers, like the CureVac partnership, to work out which vaccines will be effective as a booster shot and to design new vaccines specifically targeted at the variants of concerns, like the variant first found in South Africa.
“Our goal is to ensure the vaccine protects against this dreadful disease, whatever it throws at us, to keep us safe and protect our much cherished return to a normal way of life.”
The health secretary also announced he was launching a consultation into whether it should be mandatory for care workers who work with older patients to be vaccinated.
He said the consultation was in light of the fact that vaccination rates among care home staff were still below 80 per cent in some local authority areas.
“I believe we have a duty to care to protect the most vulnerable, so we’ll consider all options to keep people safe,” he said.