Healthy young people in UK may never be offered another Covid shot, expert says | Health policy

Healthy young people in the UK may never be offered another Covid vaccine, a leading expert has said, as a new wave of infections are set to hit the country in the coming weeks.

Giving his personal expert opinion, Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and member of the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, suggested there was no point in offering a fourth shot to those who have not yet passed middle age, unless in the current landscape.

“I think it’s doubtful that young, healthy people will ever be offered another Covid vaccine beyond the third dose — at least with the vaccines and variants we have now,” Finn said, although he added that the two could change.

“You just don’t get anything very useful out of [further] immunize healthy young people with these vaccines because they rarely get sick – which is what vaccines prevent,” he said, adding that vaccines provided poor, short-lived protection against mild infections and onward transmission.

In March, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, suggested the second booster program could be extended in the fall; At present, a spring booster is only available to select groups, including people aged 75 and over and residents of care homes.

It has not yet been revealed which groups would be included in a wider rollout.

Another JCVI member told the Guardian that the assumption that younger, healthy people would not receive an extra dose was not unreasonable given the limitations of current vaccines and the reduction in disease severity. in this cohort.

“The recalls are really about personal protection and sustaining the resurgence of fall illnesses, given the global vaccine supply,” they said.

Finn said that among those vaccinated, one infection provided an antibody boost equivalent to another vaccine dose and could theoretically provide broader T-cell protection against the coronavirus’ non-spike proteins.

“I wouldn’t advise people to actively try to get infected, but if it happens – and in many people it will – the compensation for any illness or inconvenience they suffer is that it should leave them in a good place immune-wise,” he said.

However, Professor Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London, warned that infection with the Omicron variant did not appear to produce a strong immune response, with many people being repeatedly infected every few weeks.

Infections could also pose a long-lasting risk of Covid, Altmann noted, adding that while current vaccines have limitations, boosters still increase immunity and reduce susceptibility to reinfection and serious illness, even in people. younger.

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday, Covid levels, although falling, remain high in the UK, with an estimate one in 35 people in the community in England having Covid in the week ending April 30 – the lowest level since the start of the year. On 1.8 million people in the UK live long Covidabout 2.8% of the population.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, said that while the vaccine-induced immune response in young people was more robust than in older adults, it was questionable whether further booster shots in the former were useless.

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“In the face of future variants of vaccine avoidance and continued uncertainty about the long-term consequences of Covid infection, it will be important to monitor the duration of protection in [younger people]he said, adding that while vaccination did not completely stop transmission, it did reduce the spread of the virus.

“The winter months are likely to be difficult with new variants of Covid as well as other respiratory infections,” he added. “While the priority is to ensure the safety of the elderly and clinically vulnerable, it would be dangerous to ignore [younger, healthy people].”

Two new forms of Omicron labeled BA.4 and BA.5 are already being closely watched in the UK following an increase in cases in South Africa, with early data suggesting they may have a growth advantage over BA .2 – the form of Omicron which is dominant in the UK.

While the number of infections in the UK identified as BA.4 or BA.5 is low, some experts believe the UK is likely to experience a new wave of Covid – although the scale and potential impact remains uncertain. This is partly because the UK has seen a larger BA.2 wave and has higher vaccination levels than South Africa, both of which may offer better protection against BA infection. 4 and BA.5.


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Edward L. Robinett