Watch: UK orders 35 million more doses of Pfizer vaccine as it prepares for booster shots
Another 35 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are due to be delivered to the UK in the second half of next year as a way to “future-proof” the jabs programme, the Health Secretary said.
Sajid Javid said the extra doses are part of “robust preparations” to ensure the country’s safety “for years to come” against Covid-19.
The Department of Health (DH) said it is planning for any future booster programmes to protect against the virus and its variants.
No official decision has been given yet on a potential rollout of third doses, but plans are in place to enable a booster programme to begin in early September, alongside the flu jab, if advised.
Last week Mr Javid said he is “confident” a booster campaign can start next month.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is still assessing evidence with regard to the need for boosters and which groups might benefit most, with DH saying the final advice is expected in September.
Committee member Professor Adam Finn has previously indicated that some people, particularly those who would be unlikely to be well protected by their first two doses, might need a third.
But he said more evidence is needed before a firm decision can be made on any potentially broader booster programme.
On Monday, Mr Javid said: “The UK’s phenomenal vaccination programme is providing tens of millions of people with protection from Covid-19, saving 95,200 lives and preventing 82,100 hospitalisations in the over 65s in England alone.
“While we continue to build this wall of defence from Covid-19, it’s also vital we do everything we can to protect the country for the future too, whether that’s from the virus as we know it or new variants.
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“I am pleased we’ve reached this agreement with Pfizer for more doses as part of our robust preparations to future-proof our vaccine programme, ensuring we have plans in place to keep the nation safe for years to come.”
The UK has secured early access to 432 million doses through supply agreements with six vaccine developers to date, DH said.