Vulnerable people urged to get vaccine booster as Covid deaths rise in UK

Effects of vaccines waning among older and vulnerable people, British health official says

Britain’s chief medical adviser Dr Susan Hopkins: ‘Unless people get vaccinated, we will have a long and difficult winter.’ Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Britain’s chief medical adviser Dr Susan Hopkins: ‘Unless people get vaccinated, we will have a long and difficult winter.’ Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

 

The chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency has said elderly and vulnerable people who are double vaccinated have started dying due to the Covid-19 vaccine’s efficacy waning.

Dr Susan Hopkins said while the UK’s Covid-19 booster rollout was going well, she is urging more people to come forward to get their top-up jabs.

Health chiefs have warned for months that the vaccine’s effects wane about five or six months after the second dose, which prompted the British government to launch a booster campaign in the autumn.

Booster vaccines are also being offered in the Republic to people aged over 60 and to frontline healthcare workers.

Reports last week said Downing Street was concerned about hospital admissions and deaths among double-vaccinated people rising due to waning immunity.

Figures from the British National Health Service from Sunday showed that more than seven in 10 people aged 80 and over have had their boosters in the UK while almost three in five people aged 50 and over have also had their top-ups.

Speaking about the mortality rates relating to Covid-19 on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Dr Hopkins said there are deaths in the elderly population due to about 5 per cent of those remaining unvaccinated.

She added: “We’re still seeing deaths in mainly the unvaccinated population . . . but increasingly, because of immune waning effects, there are deaths in the vaccinated group as well.”

Asked who was dying currently as a result of contracting Covid-19, Dr Hopkins said: “The people who are dying are the same people who have died all the way through.

“It is particularly the older age groups, so the over-70s in particular, but also those who are clinically vulnerable, extremely vulnerable, and have underlying medical conditions.”

She added: “As we’ve mentioned, the immune effects wane and what we see is, especially in the older or the vulnerable groups, those are the people whose immunity will wane the most.

“So, if you’re a healthy 30 year old, then two doses will protect you for a longer period. That’s why those people need to come forward for their third dose as soon as possible.”

UK health secretary Sajid Javid has called for people to come forward for their third doses, stating that younger relatives should urge eligible parents and grandparents to take up the offer of a booster and the flu vaccine.

People over 50 and those most at risk from Covid-19 are currently eligible for a booster in the UK six months after their second jab.

Outlining the uptake of boosters so far, Dr Hopkins said: “It’s been quite good. There’s over 60 per cent of the population that are being offered boosters [who] are taking it up.

“I think it’s slower than we saw in the first round. I think that may be due to people thinking they’re already protected, which is why we’re giving a lot of public health messages about why it’s so important for them to come forward for that third dose.”

She added: “We know that the virus is circulating at very high levels in our community. So unless people get vaccinated, we will have a long and difficult winter.” – PA