Covid booster jabs plan to be announced in weeks, says Hancock – as trials into scrapping isolation underway

COVID booster jab plans will be announced in weeks, Matt Hancock said today.

The Health Secretary also revealed trials on dropping isolation rules for double jabbed people are taking place.

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He said it's "something I want to see", with it being brought in as soon as is "reasonable to do so".

Mr Hancock said the Government is working on the booster programme, and said data should be ready in the next few weeks.

He told BBC Breakfast that second jabs offer very strong protection "but there is more protection still that we think that you can get from a booster jab and we're currently trialling which combinations of jabs are the most effective".

"When we know the results of that, then we will set out the full plans for the booster programme over the autumn," he said.

"We've got to make sure we get the logistics right; for instance, GPs have been so heavily involved in this vaccination effort, but GPs have also got to do their day job, so that's something we're working hard on now, and, in the next few weeks, when we get the clinical data through on what's the most effective combinations to have… then we'll set out all the details of the booster programme for the autumn."

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, warned the health service needs time to plan for vaccine booster campaigns to make them "business as usual" instead of "emergency response".

"There are a bunch of questions that really do need to be answered in terms of looking forward to the next phase," he told Times Radio.

These include: how long protection lasts, whether people can "mix and match" the vaccines they have had, how new vaccines will be incorporated into the vaccine roster.

PLANS TO COME

They will also cover what the level of protection is against new variants and whether vaccines need "tweaking", what the plan is for vaccinating children, and whether the vaccine can be given alongside the flu jab, he said.

Mr Hopson added: "Flu jabs start in September, so if we're going to do one jab in one arm, one jab in the other, we really do need to know quite quickly.

"And that's why we've called today for the Government to do all it can to get us the answers to those questions. We need those answers really pretty quickly if we're to carry on our fantastic success."

It's hoped that the booster jabs will help prevent an autumn wave of the virus in the UK.

People receiving the booster shot will have to be 30 or over and will need to have been jabbed early on in the vaccine programme.

This could mean people over the age of 75, as well as health and care workers would receive the extra jab as part of the trial.

When we know the results of that, then we will set out the full plans for the booster programme over the autumn.

So far in the UK 36.9 million people have received a first dose of a coronavirus jab, with 20.8 million now having had a second.

It comes after Boris Johnson is "unlikely" to bring Freedom Day forward and release England from lockdown on July 5, a Cabinet minister warned today.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the PM will "err on the side of caution" and stick to the July 19 date for the great reopening.

And he insisted No 10 is set to once more resist pressure from angry Tory MPs to speed up the lifting of restrictions.

His remarks come after health chiefs warned the end of lockdown “can’t be accelerated to July 5” as England is “probably not in the right place”.

Mr Kwarteng said this morning: "Generally we've stuck to the dates that we've said.

"I remember the previous dates, there was a lot of push to try and get April 12 earlier, May 17 earlier, that didn't happen.

"I would always err on the side of caution and I would look to July 19. It could be before but I think that's unlikely."

And youngsters aged 16 and 17 are to be offered a ­vaccine before they head back to school in September, The Sun can reveal.

Ministers want to roll out jabs to children for the first time — subject to approval from top medics, which insiders say could come within weeks.

They also want to offer all A-Level and college students aged 16 and 17 a vaccine in August, before they head back to education in the autumn.

 


 

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