Britain stockpiles Covid-19 vaccines ahead of autumn booster shot campaign

Despite a rise in cases, ministers are confident what is left of lockdown can be lifted on July 19

Britain is stockpiling Covid-19 vaccines in preparation for a potential “mix and match” booster programme in autumn.

It comes after research suggested mixing vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca give good protection.

The Com-Cov trial results also suggested that people who have already received two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine could have a stronger immune response if they were given a different vaccine as a booster.

This could offer greater flexibility for a new-look vaccination campaign in autumn and winter focused on booster shots.

Britain's Vaccine Taskforce is continuing to buy up stocks of vaccines so supply problems will not limit the government’s options, which could see newer vaccines such as Novavax or Valneva used as boosters, i newspaper reported.

Despite a rise in cases, ministers remain confident what is left of lockdown can be lifted on July 19, as planned.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty told Cabinet on Monday the increase in the infection rate was not leading to a surge in hospital admissions or deaths.

We will be able to live with Covid in the future even if cases continue to rise.
Boris Johnson's spokesman

Ministers have agreed the country would need to learn to live with the virus after restrictions are eased.

Covid-19 will be treated the same way as other endemic illnesses, such as the flu, which killed 22,000 people in England in 2017-18.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “increasingly confident” remaining social distancing rules could be lifted due to the “much shallower growth” in hospital admissions.

“Cabinet agreed that once we have completed the road map, we will be able to live with Covid in the future even if cases continue to rise, thanks to the protections provided by the vaccine,” his spokesman said.

The success of the vaccine programme could also mean self-isolation requirements for people in close contact with Covid-19 cases could be dropped.

Currently, anyone who has been in close contact with a positive case must isolate for 10 days.

However, ministers are poised to replace that rule for fully vaccinated people, only requiring them to take a rapid test for the same time period, The Sun reported.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Sajid Javid is set to announce the NHS app will be updated to be integrated into the EU's identical green pass system.

That would allow unrestricted travel to the bloc for fully vaccinated passengers.

Spain and Portugal require British travellers to quarantine on arrival if they are not vaccinated.

Germany, however, still requires passengers from the UK to quarantine for 14 days, even if vaccinated due to concerns over the Delta variant.

Mr Johnson said on Wednesday he would discuss the travel ban with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she visits the UK later this week.

"What we hope is that the vaccine rollout programme, the double jabs programme, will enable people to start flying and really give that (aviation) industry the prospect of a long-term sustainable recovery," he said.

The UK reported another 26,068 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday - the highest since 29 January, when there were 29,079.

There were also 14 more deaths.

Updated: June 30th 2021, 3:24 PM