UK orders 60m Pfizer vaccine under booster program
London, United Kingdom: Britain announced on Wednesday that it had purchased 60 million more doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech coronavirus vaccine for a winter booster program aimed at protecting the most vulnerable.
Almost two-thirds of UK adults have had one dose of a Covid vaccine, with a fifth having received two.
"The vaccine is helping us to bring back our freedom and we must protect this progress," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at a news conference.
In response to the "danger raised by a new version," the government has been working on a program to provide booster shots by the end of the year, he said.
"We have been working on a program of booster shots... for over a year now, and we've backed some of the only clinical trials in the world looking specifically at booster shots," he said.
"I'm delighted to be able to tell you that we've secured a further 60 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine that will be used alongside others as part of our booster shot program later this year."
Britain has become the worst-affected European country by the virus, with over 127,000 deaths, despite launching a successful mass-vaccination program in early December, using AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Moderna vaccines.
The health secy said that the UK had been working on booster program proposals for more than a year.
In total, the UK has obtained 517 million doses of eight separate vaccines. Since the beginning of December, more than 47.5 million vaccines have been administered, including first and second doses.
Since the Moderna jab has only recently started to be used, the vast majority are Pfizer or AstraZeneca.
According to official statistics released Wednesday, nearly 34 million first doses have been given, and a quarter of the adult population, or 13.5 million individuals, have received a second dose.
The boost program would try to protect the most vulnerable people before winter.
Research conducted by the Public Health Agency of England (PHE) found that a single dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine decreases coronavirus transmission within the same household by up to 50%.
The cumulative number of Pfizer doses ordered by the UK now stands at 100 million. It is anticipated that the most disadvantaged groups will be given another shot before next season.