British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a plan Tuesday to offer all those aged 50 and over a booster vaccine as part of a winter coronavirus strategy plunging Britain into a growing debate over whether lower-income countries should take the first blows.
The prime minister is taking steps to prevent a new escalation of cases to defeat the National Health Service, and to avoid another deadlock in a country plagued by pandemics and previous measures that included some of the world’s toughest restrictions.
Additional doses of the vaccine will begin to be offered next week for the oldest members of that group, health workers and those with basic health conditions across the UK, in order to give all over the age of 50 a boost of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, despite which vaccine an individual has received before, by the end of the year. The decision comes after an announcement Monday that a vaccine will be offered to healthy children aged 12 to 15 years.
Speaking at a press conference on Downing Street, Mr. Johnson hailed the vaccination campaign for the production, he said, of one of the cheapest societies and one of the most open economies in Europe.
Yet the decision places Britain among a growing group of countries that are offering boosting impetus to their citizens before many people in large parts of the world have taken even one dose.
In the United States, there is a heated debate over the use of amplifiers. The Biden administration announced a proposal in August to start administering vaccine stimulants eight months after people received second injections, but some scientists have opposed it, saying vaccines already protect many people against serious illness and hospitalization. .
Britain is now averaging around 30,000 new cases of coronavirus and about 1,000 hospitalizations every day, according to government data. And while this is significantly less than the 100,000 cases predicted by some experts, government officials know another increase is possible as children return to school and the weather worsens during the fall and winter.
Officials in Britain are looking to avoid the types of restrictions for months trapped people not to see family and friends even in most outdoor environments, also preventing another catastrophic winter increase like the one that hit the country last year.
Although the government has not ruled out another blockade altogether, it presents it as the last resort that would only be considered if England faces a new and highly transmissible variant.
When you have a large part of the country, as we have now, with immunity, then smaller changes can make a bigger difference and give us confidence that we do not need to go back to the blockages of the past, said Mr. Johnson.
Mr Johnson also said the government was preparing a Plan B as a random case in case the cases increase significantly, as some experts fear they will increase in the winter months. This includes re-establishing a requirement to wear face masks indoors and on public transportation, and advising people to work from home when possible.
On Sunday the government said it would not proceed with a vaccine passport plan that would have forced nightclubs and several other places in England to check the status of those trying to enter. But it has kept open the option of reviving the strategy if the situation worsens.
Despite the flood of incentive programs in the richest nations, the science of whether they are needed by most healthy people is still unclear.
The World Health Organization has warned that providing booster injections in rich countries could divert vaccines from poorer countries in need of doses, and last week called on governments not to administer stimulants to healthy patients until at least end of the year.
Some studies suggest that the protection provided by vaccines against infection and minor illnesses may be declining. But they remain very effective in preventing the worst outcomes, including serious illness and death, and scientists have said a general recommendation for stimulants is premature.
Experts generally agree, however, that a third shot is guaranteed for people with compromised immune systems, who may not have given a strong immune response to the initial doses. WHO officials are not opposed to extra doses for people with compromised immunity, and some countries, including the United States, are now offering extra supplements to this vulnerable group.
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