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expert reaction to JCVI interim advice on an autumn COVID-19 booster programme

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has provided interim advice to Government regarding COVID-19 booster doses this autumn.


Prof Penny Ward, Independent Pharmaceutical Physician, and Visiting Professor in Pharmaceutical Medicine at King’s College London, said:

“Not surprisingly the JCVI has today recommended extension of an ‘autumn’ booster against COVID to include the same groups recommended to have influenza vaccinations. Some might have thought that perhaps this same group might have been considered relevant for the spring booster, but better late than never. One missing piece of information which could be helpful for scheduling is that concomitant administration of both the COVID booster and the annual influenza shot can be given at the same visit which might be welcomed by the hard pressed community health services at the end of a couple of very busy years. It remains disappointing that this group do not consider whether their continued advice to the immune compromised to keep coming forward for vaccination might be better supplanted by providing recommendations for access to pre exposure prophylaxis in this group. A monoclonal antibody product was MHRA approved for prevention of COVID in this group of patients on March 17th this year, but has yet to be made available. Access to this product could enable the ‘forgotten millions’ of immune-compromised patients, that cannot mount an adequate response no matter how often they are vaccinated, stop shielding and return to a more normal life. This group of patients do not clear virus readily and waiting and treating illness may not only be less effective in terms of protecting their health but also risks the emergence of a variant resistant to the limited number of antivirals we currently have, a factor which would put the entire population back to square one.”


Prof Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham, said:

“This seems like a sensible approach. We know that immunity to COVID-19 following vaccination or indeed infection contracts over time, so giving those individuals most at risk from developing severe COVID-19 a boost just before virus circulation is likely to pick up during autumn and winter months seems sensible. The exact timing will be important, as you don’t want to wait until virus circulation has already started to increase, although hopefully those most at risk have already had their spring booster, which will be standing them in good stead.”



JCVI provides interim advice on an autumn COVID-19 booster programme



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



Declared interests

Prof Penny Ward: “I am semi-retired, but I am owner/Director of PWG Consulting (Biopharma) Ltd a consulting firm advising companies on drug and device development. Between December 2016 and July 2019 I served as Chief Medical Officer of Virion Biotherapeutics Ltd, a company developing antiviral treatments for respiratory viral diseases. Previous employee of Roche, makers of tocilizumab (anti IL6 antibody) and CMO of Novimmune, makers of empalumab (anti IFN gamma antibody).”

No others received.


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