Over-50s could be offered FOURTH Covid booster jab as ministers plan latest fightback against virus


Over-50s are set to be offered a Covid booster jab as early as autumn as ministers plan the latest fightback against a surge in the number of infections.

Around six million people are understood to be in line for a fourth shot as the latest sub-variants of the Omicron strain continue to rapidly spread.

Outbreaks across Europe are being fuelled by Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which are thought to be even more infectious than the BA.2 strain that caused infections in the UK to spiral to a record 4.1million in April. 

Hospitalisations have trebled over the past month, with roughly 1,500 virus-infected patients now being taken to wards every day. 

Former minister Sajid Javid had addressed cabinet colleagues about the recent spike in infections, but The Times reported no new restrictions are understood to be on the cards as of yet.

Mr Javid, who resigned as Health Secretary just hours after issuing his warning, had updated the cabinet about the Covid situation for the first time in months after infections soared in recent weeks. 

Rather than ramp up any return of restrictions, health bosses are said to be prepared to encourage increased vaccination rates over autumn in time for any winter rush.

Over-50s are set to be offered a Covid booster jab as early as autumn as ministers plan the latest fightback against a surge in the number of infections. Pictured is 95-year-old Devraj Jhalam receiving a booster jab at a clinic in Slough, Berkshire

Outbreaks across Europe are being fuelled by Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which are thought to be even more infectious than the BA.2 strain that caused infections in the UK to spiral to a record 4.1million in April

 Outbreaks across Europe are being fuelled by Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which are thought to be even more infectious than the BA.2 strain that caused infections in the UK to spiral to a record 4.1million in April

Roughly 2.3million Britons had Covid in the week ending June 24 — up by a third on the previous seven-day spell. Even though rates are climbing quickly, they remain a fraction of levels seen in past peaks.

Infections in all four nations of the UK are rising, with levels in England back to where they were in late April. Up to one in 18 people are infected in the worst hit parts of the UK.

Experts believe the latest flare-up in cases is likely linked to the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron, which could push the total number of patients above April’s peak of  16,600.

Those variations are thought to be more infectious but just as mild as the original Omicron strain. 

Covid infections have shot up in England to just over 1.8million according to the latest Office of National Statistics data

Covid infections have shot up in England to just over 1.8million according to the latest Office of National Statistics data

But intensive care admissions have failed to spike so far despite the recent surge in cases, although they have crept up above the 200 per day mark as of June 28

But intensive care admissions have failed to spike so far despite the recent surge in cases, although they have crept up above the 200 per day mark as of June 28

This graph shows the number of deaths directly due to Covid recorded in England and Wales. The number of deaths being recorded these nations currently is far below that of previous waves earlier year and a sheer fraction of those seen at the start of 2021.

This graph shows the number of deaths directly due to Covid recorded in England and Wales. The number of deaths being recorded these nations currently is far below that of previous waves earlier year and a sheer fraction of those seen at the start of 2021. 

The Government has said it is monitoring the situation ‘very quickly’ but does not yet plan to reintroduce restrictions.

GPs in Britain have been told that the NHS is preparing to start its booster campaign on September 1, with officials expressing a ‘definite interest’ in Moderna’s new vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) previously recommended people over the age of 65 get a booster jab, but the chief medical officer of Moderna has suggested they are given to everyone, including children

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) previously recommended people over the age of 65 get a booster jab, but the chief medical officer of Moderna has suggested they are given to everyone, including children 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) previously recommended people over the age of 65 get a booster jab, but the chief medical officer of Moderna has suggested they are given to everyone, including children.

The recent surge in cases has prompted Independent Sage to call for masks to be worn in public, more Covid jabs to be dished out as well as increased ventilation in indoor spaces. 

The group, made up of left-leaning scientists and an active Communist party professor, previously lobbied for a Christmas lockdown but quietly softened their stance after the milder Omicron wave subsided naturally and the NHS was not overwhelmed.

Infections have doubled in a fortnight across England — with around 1,000 patients now being admitted with the virus each day. 

There are fears that a new sweep of the latest Covid variant could decimate NHS staff levels once more, causing knock-on effects for ambulance wait times and the availability of specialists and operations.

The development comes just days before the UK’s summer holiday season is expected to ramp up, with millions of passengers bracing for disruption as travel bosses tell airlines to cancel more flights while aviation experts have shared fears over an extended period of ‘Airmageddon’.

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