The boss of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has said he is unsure whether annual Covid-19 boosters for otherwise healthy people are a good use of resources or money.
A new booster jab will be offered to everyone in the UK aged 50 and over from next month, as well as those with underlying health conditions, to increase protection ahead of future waves.
Chief executive officer Pascal Soriot said he believes most of the vaccinated population has a “foundation immunity against severe disease” at this point.
In an interview with the Telegraph, he said: “People who are otherwise healthy – especially if they are young, have been vaccinated, have had a boost already – boosting them again, I’m just not sure it’s really a good use of resources.”
He said the “foundation immunity” lasts “a long time, we don’t know if it’s one year, two years, three years. I think more than one year for sure”.
On boosting people every year, he said: “I’m not sure it’s a really good use of money, because most of the people now who catch it will just have symptoms if they get Covid, and that’s it.”
Covid-19 infections in the UK are continuing to fall and are now at their lowest level for more than two months, the latest figures show.
A total of 1.4 million people in private households are estimated to have had the virus in the week to August 16, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is a drop of 16% from 1.7 million the previous week.
We are pleased to announce that we have approved Evusheld to prevent COVID-19 in people whose immune response is poor.
— MHRAgovuk (@MHRAgovuk) March 17, 2022
AstraZeneca last month hiked its revenue forecast for the year after strong demand for its Covid-19 antibody treatment, Evusheld, which it expects to help drive sales of at least 20% for the year.
The group hailed the success of the Evusheld treatment, which it said is continuing to “demonstrate activity against new variants”.
Evusheld, taken to prevent Covid-19 before the risk of acquiring infection, was authorised by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in March.
Mr Soriot said the company is “still working with the UK Government to show them that patients need this and the healthcare system needs it”.
He added: “But it’s their decision they have to make.”