Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group Andrew Pollard (Photo by Henry Nicholls/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
COVID booster shots are not currently needed and the doses should be given to other countries, Oxford vaccine chief Andrew Pollard said on Tuesday (10) in contrast to the position taken by Britain’s health minister Sajid Javid amid reports that the UK is set to “hoard” up to 210 million spare jabs.
Oxford jab chief, who led the team that created the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, has criticised UK’s covid booster plan saying the vaccines need to “go where they can have the greatest impact”.
Claiming Britain itself currently has no reason to panic, Pollard also said that a decision to offer booster shots should be based on scientific studies, and there had not been any evidence yet of an increase in severe disease or deaths among the fully vaccinated, reports said.
“The time we would need to boost is if we see evidence that there was an increase in hospitalisation – or the next stage after that, which would be people dying – amongst those who are vaccinated,” Pollard said.
Pollard also warned that herd immunity was “not a possibility” because the delta variant would continue to infect people who had been vaccinated.
Britain is reportedly planning for a Covid booster programme in autumn. Javid has said earlier that he expected the booster programme to begin in early September, pending final advice from officials.
While AstraZeneca has said it needs more time to assess whether boosters are needed to maintain protection, Pfizer has claimed that it expects a third shot will be needed to keep protection high, reports said.
Pollard’s statement comes a few days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) called on countries that are planning booster programmes to delay them until more people are vaccinated around the world.
Meanwhile, a report stated that the UK is on course to “hoard” up to 210m spare coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year.
About 467m jabs are on order, with 306m due to be delivered to the UK by the end of 2021, data from life science analytics company Airfinity found. However, only about 95m jabs will be needed to fulfil the expected demand of vaccinating all over-16s and giving a booster dose to the most vulnerable in autumn.
Nick Dearden, director of the organisation, told the Guardian it was an “insult to the thousands dying each day” that the UK was offering third doses and preparing to vaccinate teenagers while low- and middle-income countries were left “fighting for scraps”.