Covid: Who will be first in line for a coronavirus booster jab?

Watch above: Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen on the plan for booster jabs

A coronavirus «booster jab» campaign could begin as early as September, the vaccines minister has told ITV News.

Tens of millions of vaccine doses have been ordered, so the UK is ready to revaccinate much of its population ahead of a potential third wave of Covid-19, which is expected to hit later this year.

It takes two doses of a coronavirus vaccine for a person to be fully inoculated, however immunity can wane over time, meaning a third jab could be necessary to increase people’s protection against the disease.

Viruses are complicated and evolving infections, they can mutate quickly to evade vaccines.

Likewise, antibodies which vaccines help create to fight off viruses don’t necessarily last forever.

A booster jab is an additional vaccine shot designed to help create more antibodies which can tackle the virus and any of its variants.

Coronavirus is similar to the flu virus in the way it can quickly mutate, so just as a new flu vaccine is offered to the most vulnerable each year, it’s likely the same will happen to Covid-19.

Just because you were given AstraZeneca or Pfizer the first time around doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it as a booster.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam is carrying out a clinical study called «Cov boost» which is looking at which vaccine dose combinations offer the most protection.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the study will examine «which single jab will offer the best protection or durability of both T-cells and of course antibodies».

Novavax, the yet-to-be approved vaccine being produced on Teesside, «looks pretty good because it works against the current dominant virus in the UK, the Kent virus, and the South Africa virus,» Mr Zahawi said.

«Pfizer looks good, we are talking to AstraZeneca about their vaccine variant, Valneva as well.»

He added: «We want to give as much optionality to the clinicians to be able to make the decision of how they want to offer that additional protection for the most vulnerable cohorts.»

Mr Zahawi said a decision has not yet been made on when third jabs should be offered.

He told ITV News: «The NHS is already working with a team on the deployment strategy so that we’re ready from September onwards.

«It may not be September, we may choose to go a month later or earlier than New Year, depending on the durability and the protection the most vulnerable have.»

He said the UK must be «ready to deploy and have the vaccines ready» as soon as it can.

Those among the first to be offered their first coronavirus shot are likely to be the first to get their third jab too.

Mr Zahawi said those who are considered «clinically extremely vulnerable» are the «most likely to the ones where they may require a boost, because the antibodies or T-cells are reducing».

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty will be the one to make a final decision on boosters.

But when asked if those included in phase one of the vaccine rollout would be the first for a booster, Mr Zahawi said that’s «absolutely right».

Here is the original phase one priority list:

1 – Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults 2 – All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers 3 – All those 75 years of age and over 4 – All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age) 5 – All those 65 years of age and over 6 – Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group (see clinical conditions below) [footnote 1] 7 – All those 60 years of age and over 8 – All those 55 years of age and over 9 – All those 50 years of age and over

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