UK secures 114m booster jabs in major deal to 'future proof' fight against Covid variants

1 December 2021, 22:30 | Updated: 2 December 2021, 05:06

The Government has secured millions more Covid vaccines in preparation for the next two years.
The Government has secured millions more Covid vaccines in preparation for the next two years. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The Government has secured 114 million Covid vaccines in a major deal that will "future proof" the UK against different variants.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines included in the deal will ensure the country is prepared for booster campaigns on the way over the next two years.

There will also be access to modified vaccines if they are needed to combat Omicron and future variants of concern, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

The additional 60 million doses of Moderna and 54 million doses of Pfizer will be on top of the 35 million doses of Pfizer ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and the 60 million Novavax and 7.5 million GSK/Sanofi doses expected in 2022.

It comes as some scientists have suggested that repeated vaccination campaigns will be the only way to keep the virus at bay in years to come.

However, others have said it is too early to tell whether annual boosters will be needed.

Read more: Europe must consider mandatory vaccines, says EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen

Read more: Omicron cases 'mild' and vaccines still work: WHO official downplays variant fears

JCVI member Professor Jeremy Brown told LBC’s Tom Swarbrick on Wednesday evening that it would depend on both age groups and disease groups.

"We need to see what antibody levels are like after a period of time after the third dose to get a feel for when people might be waning, with their antibody responses low enough to warrant the fourth dose of a vaccine," he said.

"Now, that will vary with which age group and disease group you’re talking about.

"I suspect in healthy people a fourth dose is not going to be necessary for a long time, one would hope."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Thanks to the Vaccines Taskforce, we have an excellent track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.

"These new deals will future proof the Great British vaccination effort - which has so far delivered more than 115 million first, second and booster jabs across the UK - and will ensure we can protect even more people in the years ahead.

"This is a national mission and our best weapon to deal with this virus and its variants is to get jabs in arms - so when you are called forward, get the jab and get boosted."

It comes amid fears that the latest Covid variant to be identified as a variant of concern - Omicron - could evade some protection afforded by existing jabs.

However, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official has said that cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus are "mild" and vaccines don't appear to be less effective against it.

The Government previously announced that booster jabs would be offered to all over-18s by the end of January, ramping up the race against the virus.