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Health & Fitness Why UK turned its back on AstraZeneca: 3 reasons Covid booster jab won't be made by Oxford

14:25  17 september  2021
14:25  17 september  2021 Source:   express.co.uk

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The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed at the University of Oxford, provided the NHS with much-needed jab doses when vaccines were scarce, and countries were fighting to acquire limited supplies. The AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab, also known as the Oxford vaccine, won't be used for the winter booster rollout, however.

To "keep the lid" on the virus over the winter, the Prime Minister unveiled in a Downing Street press conference on September 14, his COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan.

Under the plan, a booster vaccine programme will be rolled out to 30 million people - starting next week, when booster jabs will be offered to the most vulnerable.

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Care home residents, the over 70s, frontline health workers, and adults deemed clinically extremely vulnerable will be given a third vaccine dose.

Booster jabs will then be offered to most adults aged over 50 within the next few months.

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a person posing for the camera: Covid booster: AstraZeneca vaccine © GETTY Covid booster: AstraZeneca vaccine a man and a woman looking at the camera: Picture of someone getting vaccinated © GETTY Picture of someone getting vaccinated

Why has the AstraZeneca jab been shunned?

The Government has opted to use both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the booster programme.

There are three key reasons why Britain won't be using the AZ jab for this booster round.

The JCVI hasn't recommended using the AstraZeneca vaccine for the booster scheme

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer a strong booster response.

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Its conclusions were made using extensive research, including the Cov-Boost study.

timeline: Map of the vaccination rate in the UK © EXPRESS Map of the vaccination rate in the UK

The Cov-Boost study also reviewed the safety and efficacy of vaccines produced by AstraZeneca, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen, and Curevac.

None of these have been recommended for the UK's booster programme by the JCVI.

So if the Government takes the advice of the JCVI, the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be used in the booster programme.

The head of AstraZeneca isn't keen

The head of AstraZeneca has said rolling out third doses too quickly would be an "unnecessary burden" on the NHS.

text: Picture of a vaccine vile © GETTY Picture of a vaccine vile

Chief executive Pascal Soriot has said the Government should be patient before committing to a booster programme.

He said the UK was "a few weeks away" from having a definitive answer on how effective just two doses of the vaccine were in providing "continued, protective immunity".

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He warned that moving too quickly would deprive scientists of data on how well the vaccines work.

The AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't use mRNA technologies

One of the reasons the JCVI has recommended the use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines above others is because they use mRNA technologies.

a group of people sitting at a table: Picture of a vaccination centre © GETTY Picture of a vaccination centre

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of COVID-19 Immunisation for the JCVI said mRNA technologies provided "a very good immune boost" in recent studies.

Also, there appears to be more scientific evidence available about the long-term efficacy of mRNA vaccines over other jabs.

But the use of AstraZeneca in the booster scheme hasn't been ruled out completely.

Professor Wei Shen Lim said the JCVI will "keep our options open".

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But he added: "I don't think I can say very much about future booster programmes because we just don't have the data, we don't know what might happen.

"I think we need to keep our options open - I wouldn't want to exclude any options at this moment."

A source close to AstraZeneca said the company was finalising data on the durability of protection offered by its Covid vaccine, according to the i.

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