Britain’s Vaccine Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC) has revealed they are working on creating a new vaccine that combines both flu and COVID jabs. According to Chief Executive Michael Duchars, the goal is to speed up the booster shot process and cut manufacturing time. But, the campaign may not come into play until 2022.
Duchars explained: ‘It will save a lot of time, and it would be a lot more convenient to just give one shot, so it is something that we and vaccine developers and producers will be looking at.’
Let’s say we do need to give a seasonal vaccine, and people need one shot for flu, and one shot for Covid and another for something else. If you can put them all into one, then that’s obviously preferable.
The VMIC has been in the cards since 2018, with the site initially set to be opened in 2022. However, thanks to the global pandemic, the project has been bought forward. The £215m factory hopes to create 70m vaccine doses in the space of just four to five months, vastly increasing the UK’s vaccine manufacturing capability.
Duchars continued: ‘Our target is reasonable. I feel confident we can do that. Can we do it faster? Possibly. Hopefully. We’ll absolutely be working on trying to do that.’
In our discussions, their plan is to use VMIC for the revaccination campaign in 2022. That’s what we’ve refocused our efforts and attention on.
What is a COVID booster shot?
Some experts believe that a third COVID vaccine may be needed annually to maintain a level of coronavirus antibodies in the face of waning protection and the emergence of new and potentially intense coronavirus mutations.
Who would need a COVID booster shot?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has not made any final decisions on whether or not a COVID booster jab programme will be launched this Autumn. However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has commented that those over 50 will likely be offered their third dose in early September at the same time as their flu shots.
This aligns with advice given by the JCVI in June, stating that vaccine booster shots should be prioritised for at-risk adults, immunocompromised residents and those over the age of 50.
Will COVID booster shots be any different from the original jabs?
Currently, the JCVI is considering mixing vaccine doses, meaning that those who may have had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine may get a Moderna or AstraZeneca dose as their booster shot. The possibility is being weighed due to a building body of evidence that mixing these vaccines may provide greater protection from the virus.
But, so far, it seems that the vaccines won’t be tweaked to combat the Delta variant as current evidence from Public Health England suggests that the Pfizer vaccine is 96% effective at preventing hospital admission after two doses. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine showed a similar figure of 92%.