UK signs deal for 35m Pfizer jabs to arrive next year

Israel has already started a third round of booster jabs amid a recent spike in cases and the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is expected to rule soon on a booster plan for the UK.

The UK government has signed a deal to get 35 million more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine for the second half of next year.

It’s a clear indication ministers are preparing for regular ongoing booster vaccinations as concern has started to emerge in recent weeks over waning immunity among older vaccinated people.

The JCVI is due to meet soon to discuss the potential of a booster campaign and decide which patients may be most at risk.

The latest deal with Pfizer has been agreed by the UK Vaccine Taskforce and the contract details have not yet been published.

Ministers are preparing for a vaccine booster programme this year with NHS England advising GPs and other providers to begin planning a joint Covid and flu vaccine programme this autumn and winter. It’s possible patients could receive both shots at the same time.

The final decision on the booster programme will be based on the advice of the JCVI which the DHSC said was expected in September.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “The UK’s phenomenal vaccination programme is providing tens of millions of people with protection from Covid-19, saving 95,200 lives and preventing 82,100 hospitalisations in the over 65s in England alone.

“While we continue to build this wall of defence from Covid-19, it’s also vital we do everything we can to protect the country for the future too – whether that’s from the virus as we know it or new variants.

“I am pleased we’ve reached this agreement with Pfizer for more doses as part of our robust preparations to future-proof our vaccine programme, ensuring we have plans in place to keep the nation safe for years to come.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said the UK would be donating 100 million vaccine doses to other countries next year with the first donation of 9 million doses last month.

So far, the DHSC said the UK is one of the largest donors to the international vaccine effort and has committed £548 million in UK aid to help distribute 1.3 billion doses to 92 developing countries this year.

Experts have criticised wealthier nations for hoarding vaccines for a booster programme when many parts of the developing world have yet to be protected at all as the Delta variant of the virus spreads. This also increases the risks of new variants emerging.

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