An expert advisory panel has recommended that the U.K. government offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to everyone over age 50 to guard against waning protection this winter.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization’s recommendation Tuesday came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to announce the government’s new plan for combating the pandemic.
Britain’s Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Tuesday the government had accepted the recommendation, telling Parliament that the booster shots were part of a plan to strengthen the country’s vaccine defences against COVID-19 through the winter.
Javid also discussed the issue of vaccination among some front-line workers, including professionals working for the National Health Service.
“I believe that it is highly likely that front-line NHS staff and those working in wider social care settings will also have to be vaccinated to protect those that are around them,” Javid told Parliament.
The World Health Organization has asked wealthy nations to delay booster shots until every country has vaccinated at least 40 per cent of their populations.
The JCVI said booster shots were needed to ensure vulnerable people are protected against COVID-19 because studies have shown that the immunity conferred by vaccines weakens over time.
Britain has recorded more than 134,000 COVID-19 deaths and more than seven million cases. So far 44 million people have had two vaccine doses, 81 per cent of those aged over 16. On Monday, the government said those aged 12 to 15 would also be offered shots.
The COVID19 Dashboard has been updated <a href=”https://t.co/lJFIgzSk0n”>https://t.co/lJFIgzSk0n</a><br><br>On Monday 13 September, 30,825 new cases and 61 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK<br><br>48,439,272 people have now received the 1st dose of a vaccine<br><br>44,048,093 have received a 2nd dose <a href=”https://t.co/MnRky83TWl”>pic.twitter.com/MnRky83TWl</a>
“The pandemic is far from over, but thanks to our phenomenal vaccine program, new treatments and testing we are able to live with the virus without significant restrictions on our freedoms,” Johnson said in a statement.
“Today I will set out a clear plan for the autumn and winter, when the virus has a natural advantage, to protect the gains we have made.”
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:55 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 225.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.
In Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin is self-isolating after members of his entourage fell ill with COVID-19 and will therefore not travel to Tajikistan this week for planned regional security meetings, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The 68-year-old has taken an array of health precautions throughout the pandemic and has had two doses of the Sputnik V
In the Asia-Pacific region, new local COVID-19 infections more than doubled in China’s southeastern province of Fujian, health authorities said, prompting officials to quickly roll out measures including travel restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.
In Australia, Sydney’s cases rose at the slowest pace in nearly two weeks on Tuesday, but officials said they needed to see a steady drop in daily cases before deciding whether the infection curve had flattened after 12 weeks in lockdown.
In Africa, Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine, after a six-month wait caused by his unwillingness to take the AstraZeneca shot.
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday reported 617 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths.
In the Americas, the number of coronavirus infections and people hospitalized for COVID-19 in West Virginia have set new highs as Gov. Jim Justice scolds residents who continue to balk at getting vaccinated.
At least 40 per cent of the state’s people older than 12 have not received all doses. The governor said Monday that “this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” He has balked at issuing either a vaccination or mask mandate.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET