The Government is planning for a Covid revaccination campaign, which is ‘likely to run later this year in autumn or winter’, its pandemic response plan has revealed.
The 68-page plan, which underpins the Government’s roadmap for lockdown easing unveiled yesterday, said this comes as ‘it is not currently known for how long people who receive a Covid-19 vaccine will be protected’.
‘As is the case with many vaccines, the protection they confer may weaken over time’, the Government said, adding it is ‘also possible’ that new Covid variants mean current vaccines are ‘less effective’.
The document said: ‘To ensure the country is prepared for these scenarios and while further evidence is gathered, the Government is planning for a revaccination campaign, which is likely to run later this year in autumn or winter.
‘Any revaccination is likely to consist of a single “booster” dose of a Covid-19 vaccine: the ideal booster may be a new vaccine specifically designed against a variant form of the virus.’
The Government also said that ‘over the longer term, revaccination is likely to become a regular part of managing Covid-19’.
The firm confirmation comes as the vaccines minister had previously suggested there ‘very probably’ would be a need for revaccinations later in the year to respond to new virus variants.
The UK Government has already signed an agreement with vaccine manufacturer CureVac to ‘rapidly develop new vaccines’ based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, with a pre-order of 50 million doses.
However, at a Downing Street briefing last week chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty suggested the possibility of only vulnerable patients requiring a booster vaccine dose.
Yesterday’s spring Covid response plan added: ‘Over time, scientists expect Covid-19 to become endemic, meaning the virus will reach a stable, and hopefully manageable level. Vaccinations – including revaccination – will be key to managing the transition from pandemic to endemic state.
‘Therapeutics and antivirals will become increasingly important, replacing most non-pharmaceutical interventions over the long-term. The Government is also committed to building resilience for any future pandemics, both domestically and on the international stage.’
It comes as the Government has brought forward the target date for when all UK adults will have been offered their first vaccine from September to July.