The Government has secured 60 million additional doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for delivery in its autumn booster programme, it has announced.
The additional Pfizer doses will be used ‘alongside other vaccines’ in the programme, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
It reiterated that the booster programme will launch this autumn and will be ‘based on clinical need’ to ‘protect the most vulnerable ahead of the winter’.
However, it added that the final policy will be informed by JCVI advice and the results of clinical trials into the interchangeability of Covid vaccines.
Further details of the programme will be published ‘in due course’, it said.
Health 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.’
He added: ‘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.’
Pfizer UK country manager Ben Osborn 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.’
The health secretary last week confirmed an autumn timeline for a Covid booster campaign, saying it would be rolled out in a ‘similar’ way to the first two jabs. Meanwhile, the BMA has indicated Covid booster vaccinations could become core contractual work for GPs.
To date, 47.5m Covid vaccines have been administered across the UK between 8 December and 27 April, including almost 34m first doses and more than 13.5m second doses, the DHSC said.
This represents 64.5% of all adults receiving their first jab and 25.8% receiving their second, it added.
The UK vaccine taskforce has put in orders for 517 million doses of eight vaccines/vaccines in development, including:
- 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
The MHRA is conducting rolling reviews to assess the Janssen and Novavax vaccines for rollout, while clinical trials are ongoing for the Valneva, GSK and Sanofi and CureVac jabs.
It comes as a major new PHE study, unveiled today, showed that one dose of the Covid vaccine reduces household transmission by up to half.
And Pulse revealed earlier this month that researchers are expecting to announce preliminary results from their study into whether Covid-19 vaccines can be used interchangeably by May or June.