London: An extra 60 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been secured by the UK government to help support the booster COVID-19 vaccination programme beginning from the Autumn.
To protect the most vulnerable ahead of the winter, the government is preparing for a booster programme based on clinical need to ensure people have the strongest possible protection against COVID-19.
The additional Pfizer/BioNTech jabs will be used alongside other approved COVID-19 vaccines for the booster programme.
This comes as new data from Public Health England shows that one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine reduces household transmission of the virus by up to half.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Our vaccination programme is bringing back our freedom, but the biggest risk to that progress is the risk posed by a new variant.
We’re working on our plans for booster shots, which are the best way to keep us safe and free while we get this disease under control across the whole world.
These further 60 million doses will be used, alongside others, as part of our booster programme from later this year, so we can protect the progress that we’ve all made.
The government will publish further details on the booster programme in due course and the final policy will be informed by advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the results of clinical trials studying the use of different combinations of approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
We are doing everything we can to make sure the most vulnerable are protected from COVID-19 now and in the future.
Our brilliant Vaccines Taskforce has secured an extra 60 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to support our booster programme, which will be developed in line with the advice of our experts.
In the meantime, we are making great progress with our vaccination rollout and I urge everybody to get their vaccines as soon as they are eligible.
Overall, the UK has secured access to 517 million doses of eight of the most promising COVID-19 vaccines. These are:
Pfizer/BioNTech for 100 million doses – including the additional 60 million doses
Oxford/AstraZeneca for 100 million doses
Moderna for 17 million doses
Janssen for 30 million doses
Novavax for 60 million doses
Valneva for 100 million doses
GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60 million doses
CureVac for 50 million doses
Health services across the UK have now administered a total of 47,540,984 million vaccines between 8 December and 27 April, including 33,959,908 million people with their first dose (64.5% of all adults) and 13,581,076 million with their second (25.8% of all adults).
All vaccines being used in the UK have met the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
Rolling reviews are underway by the MHRA to assess the Janssen and Novavax vaccines. Clinical trials are ongoing for the Valneva, GSK and Sanofi and CureVac jabs.
The government has already hit its target of offering everybody in cohorts 1 to 9 – those aged 50 and over, the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers – a first dose of the vaccine by 15 April and remains on track to offer a jab to all adults by the end of July.
Data from the ONS and Oxford University shows that COVID-19 infections fell significantly by 65% after the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, rising further after the second dose.
Data from Public Health England’s real-world study shows the vaccines are already having a significant impact in the UK, reducing hospitalisations and deaths, saving more than 10,000 lives between December and March.
A recent survey published by ONS showed that 92% of those who had been vaccinated with a first dose did not experience any difficulties when going to get their vaccine – such as difficulty travelling to the vaccination site, concerns over catching the virus while there or having a long wait for their appointment.
Vaccines are available from thousands of NHS vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies. Around 98% of people live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre in England and vaccinations are taking place at sites including mosques, community centres and football stadiums.
Ben Osborn, Country Manager at Pfizer UK, said:
By more than doubling our supply commitment to the UK, we are delighted to support the ongoing rollout of the UK immunisation programme and help the government in its efforts to address the pandemic.
Along with our partner BioNTech, we are working relentlessly to support vaccination campaigns worldwide and, based on current projections, believe we can deliver more than 2.5 billion doses of our vaccine globally by the end of 2021.