29.11.2022

Vaccine chiefs clash over Covid booster advice as they give conflicting views on jabs’ usefulness

Vaccine bosses have given conflicting advice over booster jabs. Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said annual injections for healthy people may not be a good use of taxpayers’ money.

They are considered important for the vulnerable and elderly. But Mr Soriot, speaking about boosting healthy people, told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘I’m not sure it’s a really good use of money.’

He said jabs protect healthy people for a ‘long time’ – potentially several years.

But Susan Rienow, boss of vaccine producer Pfizer, warned that the country needed to ‘remain vigilant’.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said annual injections for healthy people may not be a good use of taxpayers’ money

She said: ‘Making sure people are boosting their immunity, so we can prevent people from being hospitalised, is going to be really important.’

The UK’s booster programme, which begins next month, offers jabs to high-risk people and over-50s.

The Department of Health and Social Care has not placed any further orders for the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

AstraZeneca wants more money to be invested in antibody treatments such as its own, Evusheld, for immunocompromised people.

The UK’s booster programme, which begins next month, offers jabs to high-risk people and over-50s.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is focusing on the type of vaccine produced by Pfizer and Moderna.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has reportedly slashed the marketing budget for Covid boosters and flu jabs, which would have involved television and newspaper advertising.

Doctors are worried about a ‘twindemic’ of Covid and flu, following a bad flu season in Australia, which often indicates what we can expect in the winter.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘Vaccines offer the best defence against the virus and will help relieve pressure on the NHS at its most difficult time of year, and we encourage all those eligible to come forward as soon as they are contacted by the NHS.’

He said ‘targeted routes’ were being used to promote the vaccine, adding: ‘This includes paid-for advertising and partnerships with charities and industry to reach our target audiences, as well as text message reminders for NHS app users, alongside the annual flu vaccination campaign.’

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