Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: The UK secures 60m 'booster' doses for year-end use

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on April 29, 2021


State-run NHS targets to vaccinate all UK adults by July.

As the ongoing two-dose vaccination programme proceeds at an unprecedented pace, the Boris Johnson government has secured 60 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use as ‘booster’ shots at the end of the year to sustain protection against the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, 42, who received his first dose on Thursday when vaccination was opened to his age group, said the ‘booster’ shots are aimed to mitigate the risk posed by variants of the virus currently detected and new ones that may emerge.

As of Wednesday evening, 34m people in the UK had received their first dose, while 13.5m had received both doses in the largest such programme implemented by the state-run National Health Service (NHS). The target is to vaccinate all UK adults by the end of July.

The number of new infections, hospitalisations and deaths has continued to fall in recent weeks, allowing the easing of restrictions at various levels.

Hancock said: “The vaccine is helping us to bring back our freedom and we must protect this progress. The biggest risk to that progress is the risk posed by a new variant. So we’re working on our plans for booster shots too. And we’ve backed some of the only clinical trials in the world looking specifically at booster shots.”

“I’m delighted to be able to tell you that we’ve secured a further 60m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. And that will be used, alongside others, as part of our booster shot programme from later this year. And that is all about protecting the progress that we’ve made,” he added.

The UK has secured access to 517m doses of eight of the most promising vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech for 100m doses, including the new 60m, Oxford/AstraZeneca (100m), Moderna (17m), Janssen (30m), Novavax (60m), Valneva (100M) doses, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur (60m) doses, and CureVac (50m) doses, respectively.

Rolling reviews are underway by the regulator Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to assess the Janssen and Novavax vaccines. Clinical trials are ongoing for the Valneva, GSK and Sanofi and CureVac jabs.

Data from the Office for National Statistics and Oxford University shows that Covid-19 infections fell significantly by 65 per cent after the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, rising further after the second dose.

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