End mass shots, treat Covid as flu: Ex-head of UK vax taskforce

London, Jan 9 (IANS) Covid should be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu, and mass vaccination must end after the booster campaign, the former chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce has said.

According to Dr Clive Dix, there is a need to protect the vulnerable and not all must be vaccinated. Dix called for a major rethink of the UK’s Covid strategy, the Guardian reported.

“We need to analyse whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary. Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end,” he was quoted as saying.

He said ministers should urgently back research into Covid immunity beyond antibodies to include B-cells and T-cells (white blood cells). This could help create vaccines for vulnerable people specific to Covid variants, he said, adding: “We now need to manage disease, not virus spread. So stopping progression to severe disease in vulnerable groups is the future objective.”

His intervention comes as it was revealed that more than 150,000 people across the UK have now died from Covid. Official figures published on Saturday recorded a further 313 deaths, the highest daily number since February last year when the last peak was receding. It takes the total recorded deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test to 150,057, the report said.

“Coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on our country and today the number of deaths recorded has reached 150,000,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet.

“Each and every one of those is a profound loss to the families, friends and communities affected and my thoughts and condolences are with them. Our way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get their booster or their first or second dose if they haven’t yet,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dix’s remarks on ending mass-vaccination come as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ruled that fourth doses were not currently needed because most older people who had received boosters were still well-protected against Omicron, three months after the booster campaign began.

The UK Health Security Agency said protection for over-65s was about 90 per cent, three months after a booster jab. The JCVI’s deputy chair, Professor Anthony Harnden, said the committee was monitoring the impact of Omicron on older and vulnerable people on a weekly basis.