Britain’s watchdog approves AstraZeneca and Pfizer’s jabs to be used for third doses 

The Pfizer and AstraZeneca were found to be safe and effective for booster jabs by the UK's medicines watchdog

The Pfizer and AstraZeneca were found to be safe and effective for booster jabs by the UK's medicines watchdog

The Pfizer and AstraZeneca were found to be safe and effective for booster jabs by the UK’s medicines watchdog

Britain’s medicines watchdog today approved the AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs to be used as third doses, as the country edges closer to a booster programme.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that the two brands were ‘safe and effective’ when administered months after the two injections.

It now paves the way for the Government’s vaccine advisory panel – which is separate from the MHRA – to decide who should get boosters.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are meeting today to determine the scope of the programme and which jab should be used.

But a mass booster rollout to 32million over-50s is not expected is not expected.

Professor Adam Finn, an expert in child health and JCVI member, expressed concern that a decision on booster jabs for the coronavirus would be made too quickly.

It’s s ‘not clear’ that the UK is seeing waning protection against severe disease and doses should be prioritised to those in other countries who haven’t had a single jab, he said.

The MHRA said the ‘important regulatory change’ gives the UK more options for the vaccination scheme, which has saved thousands of lives.

Until now, the AstraZeneca and Pfizer injections were only approved for two doses.

Just half a million Britons with severely suppressed immune systems will be invited for a third Covid jab after the Government's vaccine advisory panel finally signed off on plans for boosters doses last week. Patients who are eligible are listed above

Just half a million Britons with severely suppressed immune systems will be invited for a third Covid jab after the Government's vaccine advisory panel finally signed off on plans for boosters doses last week. Patients who are eligible are listed above

Just half a million Britons with severely suppressed immune systems will be invited for a third Covid jab after the Government’s vaccine advisory panel finally signed off on plans for boosters doses last week. Patients who are eligible are listed above

As it stands, booster jabs are only available to around half a million Britons with severely suppressed immune systems, such as those with leukemia, HIV and organ transplant patients.

The JCVI last week signed off plans to give these groups a third jab after concluding evidence suggests they did not mount a strong immune response to two doses.

Pfizer and Moderna injections are currently being used as boosters, even for people initially vaccinated with AstraZeneca.

The JCVI are today considering results of the Cov-Boost study by researchers at Southampton University to decide on the next move in the booster campaign.

 

Pressure mounts for boosters as Scotland’s Covid hospital admissions rise 50% in a week

Pressure for a mass British booster vaccine programme continued to mount today as figures showed Scotland’s daily Covid hospital admissions rose by 50 per cent in a week. 

Data from the Government’s Covid dashboard showed that on average there were 114 patients being admitted each day to hospitals in Scotland in the week to September 1, compared to 76 the week prior. 

The number seeking treatment for the virus has risen steadily since schools went back from the summer break in the middle of August, when there were about 40 Covid admissions per day.

Daily hospitalisations are now at 60 per cent of the levels seen at the peak of the second wave, but patients are presenting with milder illness and being discharged quicker than earlier phases of the pandemic.  

There were 883 Covid patients in hospital with the virus yesterday compared to more than 2,000 at the height of the winter wave in January — in a sign the vaccines are working.

Eighty-two patients were on mechanical ventilators by the most recent count on Wednesday and the country is recording seven deaths from the virus per day, on average.

The growing hospital numbers in Scotland come amid increasing calls for a more broad booster vaccine programme in the UK. 

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The study examined how effective seven different Covid vaccines – including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Janssen – were when used as a third dose after wither two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

In interim advice published in June, the JCVI said boosters should be given to over-16s who are immunosuppressed or clinically extremely vulnerable, those living in care homes for older adults, over-70s and frontline health staff.

A second stage of the rollout should target all over-50s, those aged 16 to 49 that are at-risk from Covid or the flu and adults who live with immunosuppressed people, the JCVI said.

However, the JCVI cautioned that its final advice ‘may change substantially’ and its members have since spoken out against third jabs for entire age groups.

Some 48.3million over-16s in the UK have received one dose (89 per cent), while 43.6million have received two doses (80.3 per cent).

The jabs are very effective at preventing severe disease and death due to the coronavirus, but it is unclear how long the immune protection from the vaccines last.

And factors including new variants that find it easier to sneak around the protection offered by the vaccines – such as the Indian Delta strain and the South African Beta variant – may make the vaccines less effective. 

The MHRA said it considered the available safety and effectiveness data on booster doses. 

Dr June Raine, the MHRA’s chief executive said: ‘We are committed to getting safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to the UK public. This means ensuring that existing COVID-19 vaccines can continue to be used in the most effective way possible.

‘We know that a person’s immunity may decline over time after their first vaccine course. 

‘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. 

‘It will now be for the JVCI to advise on whether booster jabs will be given and if so, which vaccines should be used.

‘We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved COVID-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include booster jabs.’

Political pressure has been mounting for weeks for a decision on boosters and was reignited today as figures showed Scotland’s daily Covid hospital admissions have risen by 50 per cent in a week. 

Data from the Government’s Covid dashboard showed that on average there were 114 patients being admitted each day to hospitals in Scotland in the week to September 1, compared to 76 the week prior. 

The number seeking treatment for the virus has risen steadily since schools went back from the summer break in the middle of August, when there were about 40 Covid admissions per day.

Daily hospitalisations are now at 60 per cent of the levels seen at the peak of the second wave, but patients are presenting with milder illness and being discharged quicker than earlier phases of the pandemic.  

There were 883 Covid patients in hospital with the virus yesterday compared to more than 2,000 at the height of the winter wave in January — in a sign the vaccines are working.

Eighty-two patients were on mechanical ventilators by the most recent count on Wednesday and the country is recording seven deaths from the virus per day, on average.

The growing hospital numbers in Scotland come amid increasing calls for a more broad booster vaccine programme in the UK.

At the moment just half a million Britons with severely weakened immune systems are eligible but the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), is meeting today to decide who else should get them.

Professor Adam Finn, an expert in child health and JCVI member, insisted boosters are not needed in large numbers across the country and it’s ‘not clear’ that the UK is seeing waning protection against severe disease. 

The JCVI is expected to recommend boosters only for the very elderly, more immunosupressed people and possibly those with severe underlying conditions. 

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and the Prime Minister all said this week they want boosters to be given out and are preparing for a widespread rollout. 

Link hienalouca.com

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