Booster jabs to target vulnerable: At-risk groups getting third dose
Booster jabs to target the most vulnerable: At-risk groups are already getting a third dose of Covid vaccine in trials, health chiefs say
- Department of Health announced vulnerable receiving third jab against Covid
- The medical trial is to determine whether it provides stronger immune response
- Follows study showing two doses of vaccine do not work as well in 40% of those who are immunosuppressed
The vulnerable are receiving a booster jab against coronavirus as part of a medical trial, it was announced yesterday.
Experts are yet to reveal the details of the rollout of booster vaccines – despite Health Secretary Sajid Javid saying that he is ‘confident’ this can start next month.
However, those with weakened immune systems are getting their third jab, the Department of Health has announced, in a trial to determine whether it provides a stronger immune response.
It follows a study showing two doses of vaccine do not work as well in 40 per cent of those who are immunosuppressed.
More than 2,500 people in the UK signed up to the Octave research, with illnesses including rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, leukaemia and kidney disease.
The Department of Health announced yesterday, that vulnerable are already receiving a third jab against Covid in a medical trial. Pictured: A woman receiving her third Pfizer vaccine in Israel
Preliminary findings from 600 participants found 40 per cent of the vulnerable produced fewer antibodies to fight off Covid than healthy people.
The figure includes 11 per cent who produced no antibodies at all.
It comes as the UK yesterday recorded that a further 174 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid, bringing the UK total to 131,854. It is the highest reported daily death toll since March 12.
There were also 30,838 new cases and there were 6,934 Covid patients in hospital yesterday.
The Octave study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was published on the website of The Lancet journal.
But the silver lining is that those with no antibodies typically still produced a good response based on the body’s T cells, which can destroy the virus or flag it to the immune system.
And Covid is still so new that experts do not know what level of antibodies is needed to fight it off, meaning the immunosuppressed may be better protected than expected.
Experts are yet to reveal the details of the rollout of booster vaccines – despite Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) saying that he is ‘confident’ this can start next month
Professor Iain McInnes, who led the study from the University of Glasgow, said: ‘While 40 per cent of these clinically at-risk patient groups were found to have a low or undetectable immune response after a double dose, we are encouraged that this figure isn’t higher.’
The booster trial will give up to 1,200 participants already involved in the Octave study, and other at-risk groups involved in research, a third jab of either the Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax vaccine.
It will use healthcare records to see whether any patients are later diagnosed with Covid. Initial results, expected later this year, will help inform the jab rollout.
Mr Javid said: ‘We know some people may get less protection from the vaccine than others, so we are planning for a booster programme in the autumn, prioritising those most at risk.
‘This study will play an important role in helping to shape the deployment of future vaccines doses for these specific at-risk groups.’
Last week, the Health Secretary said he was ‘confident’ the booster campaign can start next month.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is set to recommend booster jabs for those with weakened immune systems first and then over-70s, a source told the Financial Times.
The person, who is close to the JCVI, reportedly said ‘somewhere between nobody [and] small numbers’ will be getting third doses next month.
More than half a million people in England are estimated to be immunosuppressed.
Meanwhile, the protection provided by two doses of the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines starts to wane within six months, analysis from the Zoe Covid study indicates. The researchers used jab data logged on its app between December and July, and infections occurring between late May and July. The Pfizer jab was found to be 88 per cent effective at preventing infection a month after the second dose – but this fell to around 74 per cent after five to six months. The Oxford jab protection fell from 77 to 67 per cent on average over the same period.
- Breast milk of mothers who have been jabbed against Covid contain virus resistant antibodies, research suggests. Scientists from Florida University found those who have been double-jabbed pass on 100-times more antibodies to their babies than the unvaccinated. The findings were published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine.
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