Public/Global Health

UK official says annual vaccines probable

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Britain’s vaccine deployment minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said on Sunday that annual coronavirus vaccinations are highly possible.

“We see very much probably an annual or a booster in the autumn and then an annual (vaccination), in the way we do with flu vaccinations where you look at what variant of virus is spreading around the world,” Zahawi told the BBC, according to Reuters.

As the outlet notes, the U.K. has administered more than 12 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines so far and is on track to vaccinate everyone in the most vulnerable groups by mid-February.

The occurrence of new coronavirus variants has caused many health experts to call for faster distribution of coronavirus vaccine doses. The new variants are believed to be more infectious.

Though several vaccines such as those from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have been shown to be effective against the U.K. coronavirus strain, they do not appear to be as effective against the South African strain.

During the same BBC interview Zahawi shot down suggestions that the British government would use a vaccine passport in order to loosen travel restrictions.

“That’s not how we do things in the UK. We do them by consent,” he said. “We yet don’t know what the impact of vaccines on transmission is and it would be discriminatory.”

Oxford University’s top vaccine developer, Sarah Gilbert, said on Saturday that a version of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that is effective against the new South Africa strain should be ready by fall.

“It will be very much like working on flu vaccines, so people will be familiar with the idea that we have to have new components, new strains in the flu vaccine every year,” Gilbert said.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel has said that the coronavirus is “not going away,” and warned that the world will have to live with it “forever.” Bancel stated that health experts will have to be on the lookout for new variants from now on in order to create effective vaccines.

Tags COVID-19 vaccine Nadhim Zahawi U.K. Vaccines

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