There aren’t any plans to order additional provides of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine for the UK, it has been revealed, as specialists expressed hope a brand new jab designed to focus on two variants will type the spine of the autumn booster programme.
Deemed a British success story, and estimated to have saved hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide, the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid jab performed a key function early within the UK’s vaccination programme. However Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has urged the jab is unlikely for use sooner or later.
“It was a unbelievable vaccine, and it nonetheless is a unbelievable vaccine for the world … and the inhabitants which acquired AstraZeneca vaccines in fact obtained superb safety from it,” he advised the BBC’s At present programme on Tuesday. “However the best way that the taskforce has determined to buy the vaccines, we’re utilizing mRNA vaccines now.”
The Division of Well being and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed to the Guardian that it has not positioned additional orders for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, including that the choice is right down to a advice by the JCVI that mRNA vaccines – such because the Pfizer or Moderna jabs – ought to primarily be used for boosters.
“The outcomes of the Cov-Increase trial carried out in the course of the summer season of 2021 supplied good proof that mRNA vaccines are the best possibility for the UK’s booster programme,” a JCVI spokesperson stated, noting that the jabs supplied an excellent immune response no matter which vaccine was used for earlier doses.
“Actual-world knowledge of vaccine effectiveness following the rollout of the booster programme assist the outcomes from the Cov-Increase trial.”
Whereas the JCVI has beforehand suggested booster pictures with the Oxford/AstraZenca jab can happen in distinctive circumstances, the DHSC has now procured provides of the Novavax vaccine – approved by the MHRA in February – which the JCVI has advisable ought to be provided to individuals who can’t have mRNA vaccines for scientific causes, resembling allergic reactions.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab has had a bumpy journey since its first outcomes had been launched in 2020, together with considerations over rare blood clot complications, misinformation – resembling claims the jab has low efficacy in aged individuals – and criticisms over the design of the vaccine’s trials.
Adam Finn, a professor of paediatrics on the College of Bristol and a member of the JCVI, stated the committee can solely advise on the deployment of vaccines that the federal government has determined to purchase.
However, he added, an abundance of warning over the problem of blood clots in youthful individuals was one motive the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab was not deemed appropriate for the booster programme, together with public notion of the vaccine.
“Clearly, the entire success of the vaccine programme hinges on there being a public buy-in to accepting the vaccine,” he stated
The jab can be unlikely for use for first and second doses, he urged. “I feel major immunisation [has] just about stopped now, within the sense that anybody who needs a vaccine by now may have had it,” Finn stated.
As well as, the DHSC famous that those that can’t have an mRNA jab for his or her major course can now be provided the Novavax vaccine.
Simplicity issues, Finn urged. “Operationally, the less vaccines you’ve obtained, the better the communication, the better the logistics,” he stated, including that additionally goes for the autumn booster marketing campaign.
“The best state of affairs … could be to deploy the brand new Moderna bivalent vaccine – simply give it to all people eligible for a booster and simply have one vaccine that everybody will get,” he stated. “It’s simply that we don’t actually know but whether or not we are able to match provide and demand to do this.”
However Harnden advised the Guardian that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine nonetheless has an vital function to play in tackling Covid worldwide, noting the UK has donated doses to the Covax international vaccine-sharing scheme.
“[The jab] is a really efficient vaccine that doesn’t have the identical storage and transport points that the mRNA vaccines have. So [it] is an excellent vaccine for growing world the place the temperature necessities could be extra problematic,” he stated. “JCVI are making suggestions on the selection of vaccines within the context of UK provide.”