React study data 'supports' extending the vaccination programme to 16 year olds

4 August 2021, 09:03 | Updated: 4 August 2021, 09:08

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Sixteen and 17-year-olds should get a coronavirus jab if offered, a scientist who has been researching Covid-19 infection rates throughout the pandemic has said.

Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London and co-author of the React study which has been tracking infection in the population, said that the latest results from the study would "support" extending the vaccination programme to 16 and 17-year-olds.

He told LBC: "Our data would support that in that we'd expect there to be a really good knock-on effect from extending the vaccinations for that group."

The study found a "lot of transmission" among secondary school-aged children, he added.

Read more: Virologist says 'right thing' would be to offer Covid jab to age 12 and up

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for children aged 12-and-over and Prof Riley added: "If that could be prioritised that would also reduce transmission".

"What we should probably think about is September, October, November: how much immunity can we have in order to hopefully keep prevalence going down, or if prevalence does start to go up a little bit for it to be as slowly as possible, so there is justification in extending those vaccinations down.

Read more: Healthy 16 and 17-year-olds set to be offered first Covid jab

"But we have to balance against the other needs for the vaccine as well."

Universities minister Michelle Donelan said ministers were expecting "imminently" an announcement from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on rolling out the coronavirus vaccine to more teenagers.

People who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine are half as likely to be infected with Covid-19, the study also found.

Read more: UK hits 85 million jab milestone amid drive to vaccinate young

Read more: One in three young adults in England have not had Covid jab

Researchers behind the React trial, which has been tracking the disease throughout the pandemic, said that even if double-jabbed people come into contact with someone who has Covid-19, only one in 25 (3.84%) will go on to catch it themselves.

And cases are generally milder among double-jabbed people who do get infected, they added.

The researchers from Imperial College London said that it was uncertain whether or not there would be an increase in infections in September when schools return and there is more indoor socialising.