The United Kingdom should stop focusing on mass COVID-19 vaccination efforts after it completes its booster campaign — and begin to treat the virus as endemic, a former head of the country’s vaccine taskforce said.
Dr. Clive Dix, who chaired the vaccine taskforce until April, called for government officials to find a “new normality” for its pandemic strategy, the Guardian reported.
“We need to analyze whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary,” he said. “Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end.”
He said that health officials should expand their research into COVID-19 immunity in order to find ways to create vaccines for vulnerable people that target variants.
“We now need to manage disease, not virus spread. So stopping progression to severe disease in vulnerable groups is the future objective,” he said.
His comments come as the spread of Omicron in the country has fueled a surge in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.
The number of people in the UK hospitalized with COVID-19 rose to 18,454 on Thursday, more than double the figure two weeks earlier.
But the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization on Friday advised the government that there was no need to offer a fourth dose, or second booster, to vulnerable people at this time.
The group said that the government should instead focus on giving a third dose to as many people as possible to boost protection against Omicron.
“The current data show the booster dose is continuing to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for the most vulnerable older age groups,’’ said Professor Wei Shen Lim, the committee’s chair.
“For this reason, the committee has concluded there is no immediate need to introduce a second booster dose, though this will continue to be reviewed.’’
With Post wires