No definite answer on Covid booster jabs amid rising cases

Most coronavirus cases in the South West are among young people despite a recent increase in over 60-year-olds testing positive for Covid-19.

Public Health England South West bosses say the highest rate by far is among the 15-to-24-year age group.

There are currently 1,700 cases per 100,000 across the region while the average rate for all ages is 461.

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The data also shows an increase in positive cases among people older than 60 but health bosses are pleased the number of deaths remain low.

Experts are also looking at whether there is any waning of immunity in vaccinated groups of people.

They say a booster jab may be forthcoming for vulnerable people if there is sufficient evidence to back this up.

Deputy Director of Health Protection at Public Health England South West Mike Wade said: “It’s really important to note that the highest rate by far is in our 15 to 24 year age group.

“We are also seeing increases in our other age groups including those over 60 years of age. We’ve opened up and our over 60s are doing and engaging more around hospitality and recreation.

“So, naturally we are going to see more infection in older age groups and the vaccine is very much about protecting against severe illness.

“Our hospital and NHS providers do remain under pressure. We’ve seen small increases in people occupying hospital beds with Covid-19 in the most recent weeks.

“And in terms of the people who’ve sadly passed away who have had a positive Covid-19 result in the 28 days prior to death, that number fortunately remains low and we are not seeing any increases at this time, fortunately.”

Dr Julie Yates, Lead Consultant for Screening and Immunisation Public Health England and NHS England and NHS Improvement South West, said there are currently no recommendations for a vaccine booster programme but experts are constantly monitoring the data.

“We are looking for waning of immunity among our populations to know in future whether it might be necessary in future to give additional doses of the vaccine,” she said.

“That information is being very closely and carefully monitored and reviewed by committees including the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

“It’s unclear why that is happening. It’s currently under review and as more evidence arises those pieces of information provide us with the evidence of whether, when and who might need additional doses going further.

“It’s not unreasonable that people who had the vaccine earliest and also who potentially might have had that, or the shorter dose interval, might actually be those who might need to have additional doses.

“But there are no currently no recommendations for a booster program, so there is no detail on at the moment.”

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