Oxford researcher urges Britain to donate vaccines rather than give boosters

Andrew Pollard says doses should be sent to help other countries

Booster shots for coronavirus vaccines are not yet necessary in the UK, and doses should be sent to other countries, Oxford vaccine chief Andrew Pollard said on Tuesday in contrast to the position taken by Britain's health minister.

Mr Pollard, who heads the Oxford Vaccine Group, said that a decision to use booster shots should be based on scientific studies, and there was no evidence yet of an increase in severe disease or deaths among the fully vaccinated.

"There isn't any reason at this moment to panic. We're not seeing a problem with breakthrough severe disease," he said at an online briefing with an all-party parliamentary group.

"If there was any fall-off in protection, it is something which will happen gradually, and it will be happening at a point where we can pick it up and be able to respond."

Britain is planning a vaccine booster programme, and Health Minister Sajid Javid said he expected it to begin in September, pending advice from officials.

AstraZeneca, which manufactures the Oxford vaccine, said it needs more time to assess whether boosters are needed to maintain protection.

That differs from Pfizer, which has said it expects a third shot will be needed to keep protection high.

Britain has given two doses of vaccine to three-quarters of adults, and the World Health Organisation has urged countries that are planning booster programmes to delay them until more people are vaccinated around the world.

Mr Pollard said that vaccine supplies would be better used to protect vulnerable people in other countries.

"Doses that are available that could be used for boosting or for childhood programmes are much better deployed for people who will die over the next six months rather than that very unlikely scenario of a sudden collapse in the programmes in countries that are highly vaccinated," he said.

Updated: August 10th 2021, 8:02 PM
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