A third booster jab of the COVID vaccine is predicted-by Dr Harold Gunatillake

Harold Gunatillake

A vaccine booster program is being explored in the UK.

“It’s quite likely that, like the flu, we might be getting a different vaccine next year.”

“Vaccines protect you and those around you from Covid-19 and make you less likely to pass it on to others. The latest research shows that Covid-19 vaccines are helping us beat covid. They reduce hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 and help stop people passing on the virus. Over time, and as the vaccine programme extends, they will help us get back to normal”.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam (‘JVT’) Deputy Chief Medical Officer-UK

UK has been fast on vaccinating the people. The national effort to immunize the population has been a success and now considering a third booster jab.

Nearly 85 per cent of UK residents over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine and 62.4 per cent of UK adults are fully vaccinated.

That puts it well ahead of Australia’s vaccination rollout, which has seen 8.7 per cent of Australians over 16 fully vaccinated and 30.4 per cent receive at least one shot.

Australia has purchased enough vaccines for everyone. Australia has purchased around 140 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

It is more likely that Australia will take until April 2022 before most of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

The danger here is that the 4th wave or the next variant will be in Australia long before that. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s third booster program was in development. We will prepare now, as we already are, the vaccine booster program,” he said.

Professor Davenport said it was likely that there would be some form of ongoing vaccination for COVID-19 in Australia, and that vaccines could be updated to better combat variants.

“We’re very likely to need ongoing vaccination … both because of the waning [antibody levels] and the variation in the virus,” he said.

China in the mainland 1.3 billion people have been vaccinated, out of which 223million have been fully vaccinated.

India has vaccinated 344 million and 62.1 million fully vaccinated.

United States have given 330 million doses, out of which 157 million have been fully vaccinated, giving a 47.6 % of population fully vaccinated.

In Australia, the AstraZeneca vaccine has been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for people over 18 years and older.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) recommends the COVID- 19 vaccine by Pfizer (Comirnaty) is preferred in adults aged under 60 years.

In people 60 years and over, ATAGI continue to advise that the benefits of vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks associated with vaccination.

This recommendation is based on the increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following AstraZeneca vaccine in those under 60 years.

If you are under 60 years of age and have already had your first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and did not experience abnormal side effects, ATAGI recommends you still receive your second AstraZeneca dose. This will provide you with greater coverage against severe illness from COVID-19.

With the appearance of the latest Indian SarsCoV-2 variant of concern, and spread to other part of the globe, including the US, another fourth wave with a variant of more concern may appear.

Furthermore, the present restrictions are not viable for the economy and progress in other fields such as education and free living, and the unsurety of the future situation, and as such considering reopening the country and keeping it open based on what we know about COVID-19 and the pandemic, it is possible to predict broadly another third booster shot may reveal lesser morbidity and mortality rates.

Whether the 3rd booster dose from the existing approved vaccines will work as efficient so far is questionable. Modifying the vaccines takes time, and delays may increase the spread after relaxing all restrictions.

On giving the two jabs as preferred presently, and not knowing how long the immunity will last, a third booster is considered in the UK.

A blood test after 6 months of the second jab may be required to check on the percentage of B memory cell antibodies in the population. People whose earlier vaccine protection has worn off after the blood test may require the third jab.

Presently, it is assumed that the immunity after the second jab will last only for 6 months.

The dream of herd immunity cannot be expected for many years, as the vaccination roll out is not fast enough in most countries.

The seasonal Flu vaccine only lasts for a year as new strains evolve quickly, and the previous year’s vaccine may not protect you from this year’s viruses.

Unfortunately, COVID vaccine immunity may last for a shorter period, and the durability of protection is currently unknown. and a third booster shot may be indicated for some people.

Ongoing studies are monitoring immune responses beyond 6 months as well as determining the effect of a booster dose to extend the duration and breadth of activity against emerging viral variants.

The latest information from UK is that they are planning a third round of COVID-19 vaccinations for vulnerable Britons, with a booster program that would shore up resistance to the virus ahead of their winter.

This plan is scheduled to start in September, especially to the elderly population, as new variants are anticipated.

The interim advice recommends booster shots be offered, first to high-risk individuals like those over 70, and then to people over 50 and other at-risk groups.

Australia also may have to plan for the next roll out, but the delays in completing the second dose of the vaccine presently, and the lag of starting the 3rd booster may create its own issues.

The UK advice does not make a recommendation on which vaccines should be used as boosters, and final guidance will not be issued until more data on the lasting effects of the current vaccination program becomes available.

How long should you wait for the 2nd booster?

Research has shown that for the second dose a 12 week wait between doses provided optimal protection against COVID-19.

A study published earlier this year in The Lancet found that a single dose of AstraZeneca is 76 per cent effective in the first 90 days.

Receiving a second dose 12 weeks or more after the first can kick this protection up to 82.4 per cent.

But this efficacy dropped to around 55 per cent if the second jab was given less than six weeks after the first, the study found.

Delta variant has changed the environment for the vaccines in the UK. The two doses of vaccine are given within three weeks.

  • Infection rates are on the rise again in France and its government is warning of a potential fourth wave by the end of the month, due to the highly transmissible Delta About 30 per cent of the country’s population is fully vaccinated and 50 per cent have had a first dose.

Champagne in Paris, Sangria in Seville and lounging around the lake in Lucerne; Australians living in Europe are now travelling freely all around the continent and cannot believe the standstill back at home.

Many are fully vaccinated and heading off for their summer holidays as most of Europe opens post-pandemic, to France, Switzerland, Spain, and Germany.

Reported by Sue Williams.

Hope I have explained the present situation of the pandemic and what is ahead for us, as far as I could see.

Hope this video talk was useful.

Always remember, service to our community is my vision and mission. This is the gratitude I pay for the free education my country gave me from Kandy to the Uni, followed with a scholarship to UK for further studies and for my fellowship.

Stay safe, and Goodbye for now.

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