The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that the UK will roll out booster vaccines later this year as he announced that ten million people have now had their second doses.
According to Hancock the uptake of the vaccines had so far has been ‘astonishingly high’ and that the country remains on track to offer a first jab to all adults by the end of July.
He then warned that new variants of the virus were the biggest threat to Britain’s newfound security.
The Mail Online reports: The booster rollout, expected to come in the autumn, will offer people a third jab that tackles strains like the South African one which may weaken the original vaccines.
Everyone over the age of 50 has been offered a vaccine already, with the NHS now targeting those in their late 40s for the limited supply of first doses available this month.
People getting their second vaccine doses now are mostly those who got their first in mid-to-late January – people aged 70 or above and others in the high risk groups.
Mr Hancock said in Parliament that three quarters of over-75s have had a vaccine as well as four fifths of over-80s.
He said the Government is ‘ramping up plans for a booster shot to make sure our vaccines stay ahead of the virus’.
AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna are known to already be working on updated jabs that are tweaked so they can tackle mutated variants.
All the current jabs are based on the original version of the virus but newer variants look different and therefore require slightly different-shaped immune cells.
The current jabs still work but are feared to be slightly less effective against these strains.
Mr Hancock said: ‘We’ve already procured enough vaccine doses to begin the booster shots later this year.
‘We will be working with our current vaccine suppliers and new suppliers, like the CureVac partnership, to work out which vaccines will be effective as a booster shot and to design new vaccines specifically targeted at the variants of concern – like the variant first found in South Africa.
‘Our goal is to ensure the vaccine protects against this dreadful disease, whatever it throws at us, to keep us safe and to protect our much-cherished return to normal way of life.’
It is not yet clear when the second rollout will take place, nor whether it will include all adults or just those in the clinically vulnerable groups.