Why the EU has ‘no urgent need’ for Covid vaccine booster jabs

Boris Johnson addresses booster vaccinations for the elderly

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Vaccination rates have skyrocketed in the UK and its neighbouring nations across the English Channel. The EU is fifth on the leaderboard behind the UK, Canada, China and Israel, with 119.5 doses per 100 people. But the bloc has no immediate plans to recommend a booster, according to a recent statement.

Some nations have progressed with plans to administer a “booster jab” to shore up immune systems among local populations.

The prospect first emerged as scientists debated how long immunity from the dual dosage required of available candidates would last.

The EU’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has entered the conversation, and it believes presently available doses will suffice.

In a press statement announcing a technical report, the centre said the EU should prioritise the recommended two-dose regimen before a third.

Vaccines licensed in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) are “highly protective” against Covid-related hospitalisation, severe disease and death.

The centre added roughly one-third of adults aged over 18 in the bloc have yet to complete the recommended immunisation course.

As such, the ECDC currently recommends countries “vaccinate all those eligible individuals who have not yet completed their recommended vaccination course” before considering a booster.

But they have released recommendations on who should receive a third jab.

The ECDC’s statement said health authorities should ensure they distinguish between booster doses for those with “normal” and third jabs for weakened immune systems.

The organisation said evidence points towards an advantage for immunocompromised people who receive a third dose.

Research shows added jabs for organ transplant patients have helped them cultivate a more effective immune response.

Health authorities should consider providing third doses for these people, those living in closed settings and the older, frail population now.

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But a more general application will have to wait, as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) assesses vaccine data.

The EMA also handles policy on booster vaccines, and while it does, the EU27 can “consider preparatory plans for administering boosters and additional doses”, the ECDC added.

The UK’s vaccine advisory body, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has followed a similar path.

The organisation has not rolled out boosters and is recommending a third jab for the vulnerable.

In its recent announcement, the JCVI said roughly 400,000 to 500,000 people over 12 would qualify.

These aren’t boosters, however, and factor into the primary vaccination schedule.

Much like the EMA, the committee is still discussing plans for a booster regimen.

Scientists have previously recommended UK health authorities prepare for a two-dose booster programme in the autumn.

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