Millions of people n the UK could get an early fourth covid dose after a study suggested that the boosters effect against getting Omicron start to fade in as little as 10 weeks.
Government advisors have already said a fourth dose of vaccine for some people is likely, with a decision to be announced in the new year. They now say the fact that third doses were rushed out could mean the gap before a fourth dose has to be shortened.
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The Mirror reports: Now the UK Health Security Agency has suggested booster protection against Omicron “wanes more rapidly” than against Delta.
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Around 10 weeks after a booster dose, protection against symptomatic disease with Omicron is “about 15-25% lower” than against Delta, early UKHSA analysis said.
The UKHSA added: “There is evidence that protection against symptomatic disease wanes after the second dose of vaccine, and then improves after the booster.
“But the latest data suggests this extra protection starts to wane more rapidly against Omicron than Delta, being about 15-25% lower from 10 weeks after the booster dose.”
The UKHSA stressed the booster is “more likely” to remain effective against the most severe hospital cases of Omicron.
But “there are insufficient severe cases of Omicron as yet to analyse” this, the UKHSA said.
It’s understood this will be a key factor in whether to recommend a fourth dose for older or clinically vulnerable Brits.
So far the data is on how likely boosted people are to get Omicron with symptoms, not on how likely they are to be in hospital.
If the booster’s ability to stop people ending up in hospital faded faster as well, officials would return to examine the options.
Officials warned the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will be “watching the situation very closely”.
Modellers are still trying to work out the level of danger posed to the over-65s, who are more vulnerable due to their age and have had longer since their booster.