The Covid outbreak in Britain continues to shrink, according to official figures showing new daily infections are declining for the third day in a row today.
Health ministry bosses posted 29,547 new cases today, a 21 percent drop from the 37,578 recorded last Saturday.
But the number of people who die within 28 days of testing positive continues to rise, with 156 people becoming victims of the virus. The figure was 30 percent higher than the 120 recorded last week.
Deaths usually reflect changes in infection levels at least a week later because of the time it takes people to become seriously ill.
The UK vaccination campaign continues with the 89,832 second doses distributed today. This brings the total number of adults who are fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9 million (80.8 percent).
About 25,019 first doses were also distributed, bringing the total number of people who received at least one shot to 48.4 million (89 percent).
The figures come amid reports that the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot could be largely withdrawn from the UK’s vaccine programme, as millions of Britons who received two doses are likely to receive a Pfizer booster shot.
The booster program is expected to rely primarily on the Pfizer vaccine under a ‘mix and match’ strategy to supplement immunity.
Research has suggested that combining the two different vaccines may provide better and longer-lasting protection against Covid.
REVEALED: 26 of 27 Lancet scientists who have quashed the theory that Covid leaked from a Chinese lab have ties to Wuhan researchers
Of the 27 scientists who wrote a letter in the medical journal The Lancet rejecting the possibility that Covid came from a lab in Wuhan, 26 have ties to the Chinese researchers, their colleagues or the benefactors, a new study has revealed. .
On March 7 last year, the influential magazine published the letter in which the 27 scientists said they “strongly condemned conspiracy theories” surrounding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that has hit all corners of the globe.
All discussions about whether Covid was man-made in origin or leaked from the lab in Wuhan — the Chinese city that was zero before the virus — was effectively closed with the letter.
However, a study by The Daily Telegraph newspaper to the signatories has found that 26 of the 27 had links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where the leak was suspected, questioning their impartiality.
Signatories include Dr Peter Daszak, the UK president of EcoHealth Alliance, which has funneled money into controversial research at a Wuhan Institute of Virology, and scientific adviser to the UK government, Sir Jeremy Farrar.
Only one — Dr. Ronald Corley, a Boston University microbiology expert — was found to have no affiliation with funders or researchers at the Wuhan Institute.
But the UK medical regulator has ruled that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine cannot be used for third doses in this way.
This means that the majority of the third doses administered this fall and winter will likely be from Pfizer.
This could lead to the Oxford jab, originally planned as the workhorse of the UK vaccination program, being effectively phased out.
The AZ shot is already not offered to people under 40 in the UK due to a link with rare blood clots.
The final details of the plans to revaccinate up to 35 million adults will be revealed early next week after being signed by the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI).
Ministers confirmed yesterday that they are going ahead with the plan, despite criticism from Dame Sarah Gilbert, who initiated the Oxford jab.
Dame Sarah said a mass booster program was not necessary because the two-dose immunity “held up well,” suggesting spare vaccines should be sent to developing countries instead.
But Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Virtually all countries are looking at doing a booster program — Israel is already doing it — so we’re not an outlier doing this.”
Speaking to Sky News, he added: ‘There are differing opinions among scientists – that’s why we have the JCVI to give us the authoritative advice and we will follow that advice.’ On Thursday, the JCVI met to analyze the results of a study from the University of Southampton that looked at the impact of third doses on immunity.
The Cov-Boost study found that a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech is highly effective in boosting the body’s immune response to Covid-19.
This increase in antibody levels after a third dose was true for people who had previously had two of the Pfizer or Oxford shots for their first two doses.
It reinforces the evidence for a ‘mix and match’ approach to boosters.
The UK medical regulator has approved to give people Pfizer-BioNTech as a third dose to humans, even their first two doses were Oxford-AstraZeneca.
But conversely, they didn’t approve this – meaning people who’ve had two doses of Pfizer won’t be able to get the AZ shot as a third dose.
The JCVI has already said that a third dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should be offered to 500,000 people with severely weakened immune systems.
Ministers confirmed they are pushing through with the plan, despite criticism from Dame Sarah Gilbert (pictured) who gave the Oxford jab. has made
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has committed to a broader booster program starting this month
Health Minister Sajid Javid has committed to a broader booster program starting this month. It probably starts with those who were vaccinated first, including the over-80s and social care residents.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the data on who is hospitalized is key to determining who gets boosters.
He said: ‘What I think is really important, and as JCVI will be, is looking at the data on whether boosters might be needed – so in other words, looking at who ends up in the hospital, who the people are. who are losing immunity at this point.
“And as far as I know, we haven’t seen a major collapse in the protections we have in our population so far.” He said that over time the immune responses “do start to decline” “and of course that’s happening right now.”
Sir Andrew added: ‘Here in the UK, levels of immunity have fallen, but that’s not the same as levels of protection.’ He said that “in the vast majority of the population, despite that waning immunity, we still enjoy a very high level of protection” and added that it was important to separate the two things.
When asked if there was a moral issue about giving booster shots when millions of people in other countries are not vaccinated, he said: “I think for the politicians, absolutely, if it is necessary to vaccinate people to defend health , then that is their responsibility to the electorate, to us.
“So that’s why it’s really important to track the data and see where the potential is to improve protection if it’s really necessary, but there’s a very different issue that you’re addressing here, which is the global situation.
“Right now there is a fire raging all over the world, with enormous pressure on health systems in many, many countries.”