Ready for winter…vaccine booster rollout starts next month

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He said: “We are waiting for the final advice from Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, our group of independent clinical advisers.

“And when we get that advice, we will be able to start the booster programme, but I anticipate it will begin in early September, so I’m already making plans for that.”

Mr Javid said the goal was for boosters to be offered at the same time as flu jabs. Vulnerable groups who were first in line last December will again be prioritised before it is rolled out.

The minister added: “This wall of defence that the vaccines have created is working. It’s massively reduced hospitalisations.

“Deaths from Covid are mercifully low and that’s because of our vaccination programme.”

The update came as figures showed the UK had passed another milestone, with three quarters of adults having received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

More than 47 million people have had a first dose, including 39 million who are double-jabbed.

By September, every adult will have had the opportunity to receive both doses.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our incredible vaccine rollout has now provided vital protection against the virus to three quarters of all UK adults. This is a huge national achievement, which we should all be proud of.

“It’s so important that those who haven’t been vaccinated come forward as soon as possible to book their jab – to protect themselves, protect their loved ones and allow us all to enjoy our freedoms safely.”

Mr Javid added: “Getting two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine is the key to enjoying a host of new freedoms safely – whether that be to enjoy a trip abroad with family or a night out with friends – as we continue to build our wall of protection.

“The vaccines are allowing us to reconnect with the things we love, but more than that, they’re protecting the people we love too.”

The latest estimates from Public Health England and Cambridge University suggest the vaccines have prevented 60,000 deaths, 22 million infections and 66,900 hospitalisations.

The Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “It is a historic day for the incredible vaccination programme. It’s been phenomenal to see first hand the enthusiasm of the British public for the vaccines.”

Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director for primary care and deputy for the NHS Covid-19 programme, said: “NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to get the life-saving Covid jab to people as soon as possible.

“Their exceptional hard work rolling out the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in history has meant that three quarters of all adults are now fully vaccinated, including 95 percent of people aged 50 and over in England.

“Getting the vaccine is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself and others and there are hundreds of vaccination sites across the country, including pop-up clinics and walk-in locations.

“So if you haven’t already, I would urge you to come forward today and join the tens of millions of people who have already been vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, experts have warned that it may not be possible to depend on vaccinations to reach the herd immunity threshold. This is the point at which the virus can no longer spread due to high population immunity.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, described the idea of herd immunity as “mythical” at a time when the more transmissible Delta variant remains in circulation.

Giving evidence to MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, he said: “I think we are in a situation here with this current variant where herd immunity is not a possibility because it still infects vaccinated individuals.

“I suspect that what the virus will throw up next is a variant which is perhaps even better at transmitting in vaccinated populations. So that’s even more of a reason not to be making a vaccine programme around herd immunity.”

Sir Andrew added that while some “bumpiness” was to be expected in the next six months, there was also likely to be “increasing confidence” in the UK’s situation.

He said: “I think this next six months is a really important consolidation phase and in that shift from the epidemic to the endemic, which is the ‘living with Covid’. That doesn’t mean that we live with it and put up with it. We still have to manage those cases of patients who become unwell with it.”

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said the way infections were reported should change to focus on how many people are symptomatic, so that Britons are not “frightening [themselves]” with numbers “that don’t translate into disease burden” when the virus becomes endemic.

He told the session: “I think we need to start moving away from just reporting infections, just reporting positive cases admitted to hospital?[we need] to actually start reporting the number of people who are ill because of Covid, those positives that are symptomatic.”

Some 23,510 new cases were confirmed across the UK yesterday, along with 146 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

The 622 deaths in the seven days to August 10 was up 80 on the week before. The 196,047 cases in the same seven-day period was up 13,317.

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