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We can’t vaccinate the planet every six months, says JCVI chief

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Speaking to mark the first anniversary of the AstraZeneca jab rollout last January, Sir Andrew said: “The worst is absolutely behind us. We just need to get through the winter.”

He wants lockdowns to be consigned to history, adding: “At some point, society has to open up. When we do open, there will be a period with a bump in infections, which is why winter is probably not the best time.

“But that’s a decision for the policy makers, not the scientists. Our approach has to switch, to rely on the vaccines and the boosters. The greatest risk is still the unvaccinated.”

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Booster vaccines should be targeted towards the vulnerable

Sir Andrew cautioned against blindly following Israel and Germany, which have given the green light to a second set of boosters to all over-60s.

“The future must be focusing on the vulnerable and making boosters or treatments available to them to protect them,” he said. 

“We know that people have strong antibodies for a few months after their third vaccination, but more data are needed to assess whether, when and how often those who are vulnerable will need additional doses.”

Vaccines can rapidly be adapted to fight new variants, but he said: “We can’t vaccinate the planet every four to six months. It’s not sustainable or affordable. In the future, we need to target the vulnerable.”

‘Misinformation risks people’s lives’

Sir Andrew left little doubt that he believed vaccine misinformation spread by Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel cost lives. The AstraZeneca vaccine was suspended in some countries because of concerns raised in France and Germany over its efficacy on the over-65s and the risk of blood clots.

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Sir Andrew said: “Misinformation risks people’s lives. It’s highly likely that people became seriously ill and died because of vaccine misinformation.

“Some of this misinformation came intentionally from individuals against vaccinations, and others came from the unintentional effects of comments from politicians. Let’s just say that comments made in mainland Europe affected people in Africa.”

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