According to the former chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, Covid should be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu, and mass vaccination should end after the booster campaign.
According to Dr. Clive Dix, there is a need to protect the vulnerable, and not everyone needs to be vaccinated. Dix has called for a major rethinking of the UK’s Covid strategy, The Guardian reported.
“We need to analyse whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary. Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end,” he was quoted as saying.
Ministers, he said, should urgently fund research into Covid immunity that goes beyond antibodies to include B-cells and T-cells (white blood cells). This could aid in the development of vaccines for vulnerable people that are specific to Covid variants, he said, adding: “We now need to manage disease, not virus spread. So stopping progression to severe disease in vulnerable groups is the future objective.”
His intervention comes as it was revealed that over 150,000 people in the UK have died as a result of Covid. Official figures released on Saturday showed a total of 313 deaths, the highest daily total since February of last year, when the previous peak was receding. The total number of deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive Covid test now stands at 150,057, according to the report.
“Coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on our country and today the number of deaths recorded has reached 150,000,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet.
“Each and every one of those is a profound loss to the families, friends and communities affected and my thoughts and condolences are with them. Our way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get their booster or their first or second dose if they haven’t yet,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dix’s comments on mass vaccination coincide with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ruling that fourth doses are no longer required because most older people who had received boosters were still well-protected against Omicron three months after the booster campaign began.
Three months after a booster shot, the UK Health Security Agency reported that protection for over-65s was around 90%. Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the JCVI, stated that the committee was monitoring the impact of Omicron on older and vulnerable people on a weekly basis.