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COVID-19: No need for booster AstraZeneca jab at the moment, says Oxford Vaccine Group – despite evidence it restores peak immunity

Written by on 28 June 2021

There is no evidence a third Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is needed at the moment – despite new research suggesting it restores peak immunity, says one of the vaccine’s developers.

The director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, said the priority should be ensuring people in other countries have had at least one dose.

Research by the University of Oxford team that developed the vaccine has shown a booster at least six months after the second jab brings immunity levels back to their peak – and significantly increases antibody and T-cell levels to the virus, including variants.

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Professor Pollard said the finding was reassuring.

A food delivery driver gets a drive-thru vaccine in Manilla on Tuesday. Pic: AP Image: Some countries are still administering first doses. Pic: AP

“This is about preparedness,” he said. “We have data from this new study to show we can boost responses by giving another dose of the vaccine.”

“We have data from this new study to show we can boost responses by giving another dose of the vaccine.”

But he said although antibody levels from the second dose wane over time there is currently no scientific case for giving a booster.

Data from Public Health England show two doses of the vaccine prevent more than 90% of serious infections from the Delta variant that is currently sweeping the UK.

“When we have high levels of protection in the UK population, and no evidence of that being lost, to give third doses now while other countries have zero doses is not acceptable,” said Professor Pollard.

“We have to make sure that other countries are protected.”

The Oxford team also tested the effect of leaving a gap of at least 45 weeks between the first and second dose.

Results, released as a pre-print and not peer-reviewed, showed a strong immune response.

“This is what we expect from vaccines,” said Prof Pollard.

“If you give more time for the immune response to mature you tend to see slightly better responses later on.

“But there is a trade-off,” he added.

“Having two doses is better than one dose, and so if there is a lot of transmission in the population and you have a lot of supply of vaccine, giving two doses seems to make sense.

“But if you have insufficient supply even having one dose will have a huge impact on reducing hospitalisations and deaths, so the priority would be getting the first dose into as many people as possible.”

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