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The UK will receive 35 million more doses of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in late 2022 ahead of a potential revaccination campaign that year, the government has said.
In a statement published on 23 August 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the order for additional vaccines will “future-proof the country from the threat of COVID-19 and its variants through safe and effective vaccines”.
The DHSC told The Pharmaceutical Journal that, owing to the global demand for vaccines, the government needed to order vaccine doses now to guarantee a supply of vaccines for a potential revaccination campaign in 2022.
Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, previously said that, over the next two or three years, he expects “new variants may well lead to us having to revaccinate or consider at least boosting vaccinations as they come through”.
However, with less than two weeks to go before NHS England said it plans to start administering booster jabs to vulnerable patients, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has yet to confirm whether booster jabs will be needed in 2021.
Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary, said the COVID-19 vaccination programme has saved 95,200 lives and prevented 82,100 hospitalisations in people aged over 65 years in England alone.
“While we continue to build this wall of defence from COVID-19, it’s also vital we do everything we can to protect the country for the future too — whether that’s from the virus as we know it or new variants,” he said.
“I am pleased we’ve reached this agreement with Pfizer for more doses as part of our robust preparations to future-proof our vaccine programme, ensuring we have plans in place to keep the nation safe for years to come.”
According to the latest data from Public Health England and the University of Cambridge, COVID-19 vaccines have also prevented 23.9 million infections in England.
In its interim advice, the JCVI said that the booster campaign should take place over two stages, with the first including people who are immunosuppressed as well as all people aged over 70 years.
The second stage would include all adults aged over 50 years as well as adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.
The final JCVI advice is expected in September 2021.