Over-50s 'to be given third Covid vaccine top-up by winter' to prevent new wave

A third Covid vaccine booster will be given to adults over-50 from autumn, in a bid to stop a new wave from emerging.

It’s understood adults will have a third vaccine of a pre-approved shot in the arm, or a specifically tailored jab against new variants to eradicate new Covid threats before Christmas.

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That’s according to The Times which reports the two trials are being overseen by Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England.

As well as adults aged 50 and over, the jab will also be given to those with underlying health conditions at a similar time of year to the annual flu jab.

It’s understood the vaccine will be administered in the opposite arm.

‘No booster shot for young people’

A senior government minister told the newspaper: “We will have a lot to say about the booster programme soon. It’s looking really positive so far.

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“We think that the level of protection in the population to any variant will be so high that by Christmas, Covid-19 should have just faded away into the background like any other illness in circulation.

"So much so that we don’t think there will be any need to give a booster shot to younger people because transmission will have got so low.”

The vaccines so-far in use in the UK are Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna.

Early findings from the trial have reportedly delivered positive results and might nullify any threat from new and existing strains of Covid.

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State-of-the-art labs

It comes as the government has also announced state-of-the-art laboratories to test existing and new vaccines against variants of concern.

The £29.3 million investment will help scientists test 2,700 more variant samples per week – more than quadruple the current number.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said testing facilities at Porton Down will help stay “one step ahead” of Covid.

Mr Hancock said: “We’ve backed UK science from the very start of this pandemic and this multi-million pound funding for a state-of-the-art vaccine testing facility at Porton Down will enable us to further future-proof the country from the threat of new variants.”