01.03.2024

Covid vaccines could end up being sold at Superdrug as chain confirms it is ‘interested’ in offering jabs privately

Superdrug is ‘interested’ in selling Covid jabs after health officials gave the green light for private sales. UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) bosses yesterday confirmed that they would ‘welcome’ vaccines being available for millions on the High Street.

It would mark another step towards normalising the disease and treating it like flu.

Pharmacists offer annual flu jabs for in the region of £20. Covid vaccines would be more expensive, however.

Industry insiders also believe they wouldn’t be ready privately until the spring at the earliest, instead of being dished out alongside the official NHS programme that will be rolled out again this autumn.

A spokesperson for Superdrug told MailOnline: ‘Ensuring healthcare is as accessible as possible for people is our priority and we’re interested in offering a private Covid vaccination. Currently we are gathering information to assess whether it’s a viable option’

A spokesperson for Superdrug told MailOnline: 'Ensuring healthcare is as accessible as possible for people is our priority and we're interested in offering a private Covid vaccination. Currently we are gathering information to assess whether it's a viable option'

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) bosses yesterday confirmed that they would ‘welcome’ vaccines being available for millions on the High Street. It would mark another step towards normalising the disease and treating it like flu. Pharmacists offer annual flu jabs for in the region of £20. Covid vaccines would be more expensive, however

Industry insiders also believe they wouldn’t be ready privately until the spring at the earliest, instead of being dished out alongside the official NHS programme that will be rolled out again this autumn

Industry insiders also believe they wouldn't be ready privately until the spring at the earliest, instead of being dished out alongside the official NHS programme that will be rolled out again this autumn

A Superdrug spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Ensuring healthcare is as accessible as possible for people is our priority.

‘We’re interested in offering a private Covid vaccination.

‘Currently we are gathering information to assess whether it’s a viable option.’

Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Well and Rowlands were not willing to comment on whether they would be looking to offer Covid jabs.

Autumn booster jabs will be offered to millions of over-65s, NHS workers and anyone who is deemed high-risk.

But this year’s top-up campaign, set to begin in October, has been massively scaled back.

Previous roll-outs were open to adults aged 50-65.

Ready-filled syringes, not currently used for Covid jabs, would likely be used to give out private vaccines.

The NHS currently uses vials containing several doses.

Tinkering to make doses in ready-filled syringes could take months, industry sources told the Times.

It comes as leading experts, including a member of No10’s vaccine advisory panel, argued yesterday it would be a ‘good idea’ to make Covid jabs available privately.

Pharmaceutical companies are not prohibited from taking Covid jabs to the private market, according to the DHSC.

A spokesperson for the DHSC said: ‘Private sales of Covid vaccines is the same as other private healthcare, such as private sales of the seasonal flu vaccine – it is for manufacturers and private healthcare providers to decide and agree on.’

Philippa Harvey, the director of the Covid Vaccine Unit at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: ‘The Covid vaccination programme continues to target those at higher risk of serious illness in line with JCVI advice, as those groups are most likely to benefit from booster vaccination at this time.

‘The Covid vaccine is not currently available to buy privately in the UK but there is no blanket restriction on private sales of licensed vaccines.’

A spokesperson added: ‘We have spoken to manufacturers we’re in contract with and made it clear we won’t prevent them initiating a private market for Covid vaccines, rather we’d welcome such an innovation in the UK.

‘As far as we’re concerned, the ball is in the court of the manufacturers to develop the market with private healthcare providers.’

Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Well and Rowlands were not willing to comment on whether they would be looking to offer Covid jabs. Autumn booster jabs will be offered to millions of over-65s, NHS workers and anyone who is deemed high-risk. But this year's top-up campaign, set to begin in October, has been massively scaled back

Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Well and Rowlands were not willing to comment on whether they would be looking to offer Covid jabs. Autumn booster jabs will be offered to millions of over-65s, NHS workers and anyone who is deemed high-risk. But this year’s top-up campaign, set to begin in October, has been massively scaled back

Covid and flu vaccines will only be offered to over-65s this winter, health chiefs confirmed last week. In a bid to ‘go back to normal’, invites won’t be dished out to millions aged 50-64 who were eligible during the pandemic

Darius Hughes, the UK general manager for Moderna, said the firm remains ‘open to exploring the possibility and viability of providing Covid vaccines to healthcare providers for private sales’.

It is not clear how much private Covid jabs would cost. The Government paid around £20 per dose to Pfizer during the height of the pandemic.

But Moderna has already said it expects to quadruple its own price.

Last autumn, people over 50 were urged to have a booster, but uptake in England was just 40 per cent for people in their early 50s, and 52 per cent for those in their later 50s.

Those over 75 had a greater turnout for the boosters, with 80 per cent opting to receive another vaccine.

Some 70 per cent of over-75s also opted for a spring booster earlier this year.

It comes amid a surge in cases of the virus, triggering fears of a fresh wave as Britain heads into the autumn and winter when the NHS is busiest.

It follows the arrival of a new variant, nicknamed Eris.

Covid hospital admissions jumped in the week to August 13. There were 3 virus hospitalisations per 100,000 people in England, up from 1.2 per 100,000 four weeks earlier (thick black line with dots)

Admission rates jumped in all age groups apart from 15 to 24-year-olds. Levels were highest among the over-85s (32.6 per 100,000) and 75 to 84-year-olds (15.7 per 100,000)

Admission rates jumped in all age groups apart from 15 to 24-year-olds. Levels were highest among the over-85s (32.6 per 100,000) and 75 to 84-year-olds (15.7 per 100,000)

Scientifically known as EG.5.1, it made up 25.7 per cent of all sequenced cases in England the week to July 30, health bosses confirmed yesterday.

UKHSA bosses noted that the prevalence was up from 14.6 per cent a fortnight earlier.

However, experts say it shows no sign of being more dangerous than other strains circulating, including its fellow ancestor Omicron.

A second new variant — given the placeholder name BA.X, or BA.2.86 — has also sparked concern among experts over its catalogue of mutations

The World Health Organization revealed it had begun officially monitoring the variant, dubbed the ‘real deal’, yesterday.

Alarm bells over the strain were first rung earlier this week, after a prominent online virus-tracker spotted two cases crop up in Denmark.

The discovery came just a day after the same lineage was detected in Israel.

Early tests show BA.2.86 carries more than 30 mutations in its spike protein, the part of the virus that latches onto human cells and causes an infection.

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