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Early Data Shows Booster Jab Is "Very Effective" At Driving Down Covid, Says Neil Ferguson

vaccination centre

3 min read

Research shows rolling out third doses of the coronavirus vaccine could have a big impact in reducing the number of coronavirus infections, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London has said ahead of government plans to administer booster shots in the coming weeks.

Boris Johnson is preparing to set out his plans for tackling the virus this winter in a press conference on Tuesday, The Sun reports, with booster shots set to be a key part of the government's strategy.

The rollout of third doses is expected to be similar to the rollout of first and second doses, with the most elderly and vulnerable vaccinated first before the NHS makes its way through the other age groups.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ferguson said that while there was "still a lot of uncertainty" about the effectiveness of a booster jab, data suggests it could have a major impact, citing an Israeli study suggesting people were ten times less likely to catch the virus as a result.

"What we know from immunological data measuring antibodies in people after they’ve had booster doses is those antibodies get boosted to even higher levels than people reached after their second dose," Ferguson said on Monday morning.

“At the moment, there is very little data on real-world effectiveness," he added.

"But one study in Israel suggested that after a booster dose, people were ten times less likely to get infected with mild disease than they were before they got their third booster dose.

"So that would suggest booster doses really are very effective in further driving down transmission in infection.”

The government is also expected to soon begin administering coronavirus vaccines to healthy 12-15 year olds as part of its plan for living with Covid-19 in the colder winter months. 

Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty and his counterparts in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are due to announce their conclusions of a review into child vaccination in the next few days. 

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has already confirmed that domestic vaccine passports are not part of the government's winter plans, telling the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday that previous proposals to make them compulsory at certain venues had been dropped.

The government would be keeping vaccine passports "in reserve" for potential use in the future, Javis said, but confirmed that ministers would "not be going ahead" with mandating them. 

The Prime Minister is thought to be dead against re-introducing lockdown measures and sees less stringent interventions like mandating mask wearing and instructing people to work from home as possible options if stronger action is needed to tackle rising Covid rates later in the year.

Javid yesterday told Marr: "I just don’t see how we get to another lockdown.”

Ferguson this morning told BBC Radio 4 that he expected levels of immunity to be high enough to avoid the need for wholesale lockdown measures, even if the number of cases quickly rise.

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