Prof Adam Finn tells LBC vulnerable people might need a fourth Covid jab

23 December 2021, 09:15

By Asher McShane

Vulnerable people may need to get a fourth dose of a coronavirus vaccine, a scientist suggested to LBC today.

Professor Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Nick Ferrari on LBC this morning: "I think there will be people probably who will receive a fourth jab - whether that will be everyone, I think, is still very much in doubt.

Speaking in a personal capacity, he added: "We do need to see how things go through this wave and beyond.

"I think there may well be people who received their boosters early who are in the older more vulnerable age groups who may need a further jab - that has not been decided yet.

"It is still under review and discussion, and we will be providing recommendations on that at some point in the new year."

Recent studies have suggested that people who catch the Omicron variant of Covid may be less likely to end up in hospital.

Two new studies have suggested catching Omicron is less likely to result in severe symptoms and hospital admission than earlier Covid strains like Delta.

But Professor Neil Ferguson, from the Imperial College London team behind one of the studies, warned Omicron's severity may be offset by the "reduced efficacy" of vaccines to stop it being transmitted.

The new data was released after Boris Johnson faced calls to outline his post-Christmas Covid strategy for England, as Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have all announced new restrictions to tackle the Omicron variant.

Recorded case rates of Covid across the UK rose above 100,000 on Wednesday for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

New research from Imperial College London has indicated that people with PCR-confirmed Omicron are 15-20% less likely to need admission to hospital, and 40-45% less likely to require a stay of one night or more.

Scientists in a separate Scotland-wide study called Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of Covid-19 have said Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of hospital admission compared with Delta.

However, researchers have added that although Omicron appears less severe, it is more transmissible partly because the current crop of coronavirus vaccines are less effective against it.

Prof Ferguson said: "Our analysis shows evidence of a moderate reduction in the risk of hospitalisation associated with the Omicron variant compared with the Delta variant.

"However, this appears to be offset by the reduced efficacy of vaccines against infection with the Omicron variant.

"Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron virus, there remains the potential for health services to face increasing demand if Omicron cases continue to grow at the rate that has been seen in recent weeks."

Both studies are yet to be peer-reviewed, with Dr Jim McMenamin, the national Covid-19 incident director for Public Health Scotland, labelling the findings of the Scotland study a "qualified good news story".

The latest Government figures show a further 106,122 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday.