- The NHS revealed on Thursday that 1.7 million people in England have received a booster
- But statistics show that 4.9 million are eligible and they took a second dose six months ago.
- No10 scientific advisor says he wants to be ‘more aggressive’ with boosters
Official figures show that millions of people who are eligible for the COVID booster vaccine have not yet received their third dose.
5 million people in England currently qualify for a booster jab, but only a third have come forward for one.
It comes after a top government scientific adviser said he wants Britain to be ‘more aggressive’ with a rollout to limit the damage of winter wave cases.
A total of 1.7 million people in England have received boosters since the program was signed last month.
Invitations are being sent only to those who took the second dose at least six months ago, as they are the ‘sweet spot’ for immunity.
For this reason, the rollout was always expected to be slow compared to the initial jab blitz, which was at its peak, in which 800,000 people were vaccinated per day.
But official figures show that 4.9 million people completed their two-dose vaccination program six months ago, with most of the criteria now qualifying them for a top-up.
About 400,000 people who had been vaccinated half a year earlier were immunized and were receiving their third dose at a slightly different time. And many people who were previously vaccinated were elderly in origin and may have passed away in the past six months.
But even when these are exempted, it still leaves millions of deserving and vulnerable people with subpar immunity.
Earlier this week, Professor Neil Ferguson, a key member of the government’s scientific body SAGE, suggested the booster plan was going too slow.
Official figures show that only a third of those eligible for a COVID booster vaccine in England have received their third dose. NHS bosses revealed on Thursday that 1.7 million people in England have been given boosters since the program was signed last month
By this time six months ago, 4.93 million people in England had been double-dose, which should now qualify them for a booster, government COVID dashboard data shows.
The epidemiologist – his modeling of what was dubbed ‘Professor Lockdown’ after he closed down No 10 last spring – said the UK’s immunity has lagged behind that of other countries.
He told a cross-party group of lawmakers: ‘I want us to look at booster doses a little more aggressively too, because the sooner we can, the sooner we get to the benefits.’
Roughly 32m Britons will be invited to the top priority groups for a booster COVID vaccine in the coming months.
Number of Britons falling ill with Covid every day at ‘highest level since January’
According to the UK’s largest symptom-tracking study, the number of Britons who fall ill with Covid every day has reached the highest level since January.
Scientists at King’s College London estimated that 66,033 people were getting infected daily for the week ending 2 October, a 13.6 percent increase from 58,126 a week ago.
Cases in children are turning a corner but are still high, with nearly one in 30 schoolchildren being infected with the virus – nearly three times the next highest rate among 35- to 55-year-olds.
Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist who led the study, argued that allowing Covid to run ‘largely’ in schools was ‘a real gamble’. He said he hoped that soon children would have “herd immunity and fewer cases”.
It came as new Education Secretary Nadim Zhawi acknowledged that face masks could return to schools this winter if cases show no signs of slowing.
Health department data also showed that positive tests were still falling last week, with the number of official cases only picking up yesterday for the first time in six days.
The government’s Covid dashboard showed that there were 39,851 new positive tests yesterday, an increase of 8.5 per cent over last Wednesday’s count of 36,722. This was the biggest daily toll since 6 September (41,192).
These include all health and care workers over the age of 50 and patients with serious underlying health conditions.
After weeks of deliberation the plans were signed on 14 September and two days later the first booster was administered.
As of yesterday, it was not clear how many third doses were released because the figures are not regularly published.
The figure of 1.7m reported by England’s health officials yesterday means the NHS is vaccinating around 560,000 of the most vulnerable people every week.
For comparison, NHS England was vaccinating that number of people every day in the spring when jabs first became widely available.
It is not clear how many boosters have been installed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
By this time six months ago, 4.93 million people in England had been double-dose, government COVID dashboard data shows.
An NHS spokesman said: ‘Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, out of the four million people who are currently eligible in England, 1.7 million booster vaccines have already been distributed – and in the span of just three weeks.
‘Those who are eligible and had their second vaccination six months ago should come forward for their top up jab for protection before winter.’
A senior source close to the plans for the booster program echoed the comments, encouraging people to be ‘very proactive’ and to book their boosters ‘the moment they get a text’.
Around 500,000 immunocompromised people around the UK are being given their third dose at a time apart from the mass booster programme.
Some 400,000 of them are in England. This means they are not included in the 1.7m figure.
People with severely weakened immune systems are timing their third dose with their GP to provide them with the best possible immunity.
This may mean waiting until the end of a course of medication that prevents the vaccine from provoking a good response.