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The UK would benefit from starting to prepare an autumn Covid-19 vaccination campaign, reflecting concern from healthcare officials that coronavirus will still pose a threat, a government panel has said.

The inoculation programme is lowering severe illness across the country, the committee chair of Covid vaccination said on Wednesday.

“That is why we have advised planning for further booster vaccines for persons at higher risk of serious illness through an autumn booster programme,” said Wei Shen Lim of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

The UK Health Security Agency added that “surge vaccine responses” may be needed should another variant of concern — biologically different from Omicron and with a significant clinical impact — emerge.

Jenny Harries, the agency chief, told the Financial Times recently that Covid would continue to “taunt us” for years, echoing broader consensus in the scientific community that coronavirus still has the potential to throw health systems into disarray.

Since Omicron emerged in late 2021, however, the virus has remained relatively stable even if it has evolved.

Compared with previous variants, Omicron provokes less severe disease. Additionally, high rates of immunity worldwide, from vaccination, previous infection or both, have helped reduce the impact of new waves of contagion on health systems.

The panel said a smaller group, namely older or immunocompromised people, should receive an extra dose of the vaccine in the spring.


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