Two covid-19 vaccines approved in UK for potential use as booster shots
The Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccines have been approved as safe and effective for use as a third shot by UK regulator the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). But a general booster campaign has not yet been recommended by the body that advises the UK government on who should receive vaccines, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). “This is an important regulatory change as it gives further options for the vaccination programme. It will now be for the JVCI to advise on whether booster jabs will be given,” June Raine of the MHRA said in a statement.
The JCVI met yesterday to discuss results from a large UK trial called COV-Boost, comparing the results of giving seven different vaccines as booster doses. So far, the JCVI has only advised third shots for people who are severely immunocompromised – which it says are not boosters but top-ups, as this group may not have had strong immune responses to the first two jabs.
Meanwhile, Sarah Gilbert at the University of Oxford, who helped develop the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, has joined those saying a mass booster programme is not yet needed in the UK, and that supplies should be directed to low-income countries. She told The Telegraph that evidence suggests immunity is “lasting well”.
Other coronavirus news
The US will introduce strict new rules on vaccines that will affect 100 million working people, about two-thirds of the country’s labour force. Yesterday President Joe Biden said firms with more than 100 employees will have to ensure their staff are either fully vaccinated or take weekly covid-19 tests. And vaccination will be mandatory for federal government workers, contractors for the federal government and healthcare staff in settings that receive federal reimbursement. “The bottom line: we’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers,” Biden said at a press conference. Meanwhile Scotland is set to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and sports events from 1 October.
A simple blood test could identify who is most at risk from developing severe covid-19 early in the course of infection. The test measures levels of antibodies against substances released by dying blood cells.
Major airlines are giving out inaccurate information about covid-19 testing requirements to their passengers, according to an investigation by Which? In seven of 15 calls from investigators posing as customers, agents gave wrong answers, including some that would have seen passengers turned away at the airport.
An auto-immune condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome has been added to the list of very rare side-effects from the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine by the European Medicines Agency. The EMA says 833 possible cases have been recorded out of 592 million doses given.
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