THE GOVERNMENT cut a deal with vaccine makers for millions of new jabs, as Pfizer's boss predicts that booster jabs are here to stay.
The deal for 114m Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs has secured doses for next year and 2023.
It seeks to "future proof" the UK's immunisation programme, health secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement yesterday.
With new variants of Covid-19 expected to keep emerging as long as there is room for the virus to spread, Pfizer boss Albert Bourla said annual vaccinations will be needed to maintain a "very high level of protection".
The latest strain of the virus, Omicron, had prompted the Government's deal for an undisclosed sum.
However, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Covid-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove has assured that early signs signal that a number of Omicron cases are "mild".
The Government has snagged around 54m Pfizer jabs and 60m of the Moderna vaccine.
The health secretary added: "This is a national mission and our best weapon to deal with this virus and its variants is to get jabs in arms - so when you are called forward, get the jab and get boosted."
It comes as the WHO looks to launch a global pact on preventing and controlling future pandemics.
The pact seeks to improve the hangups the world has had to manoeuvre during the pandemic, such as data sharing, genome sequencing of emerging variants, and vaccines.
The global health body intends to launch negotiations soon, with the deal expected to be ready by May 2024 and the first stage of talks to be held by the beginning of March next year.
"That may seem like a long process, and it is, but we should not be naive in thinking that reaching a global accord on pandemics will be easy," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
Ghebreyesus added that the number of countries recording Omicron cases is expected to grow - which is likely to have played a role in the Government's acquisition of more vaccines.
"This is what viruses do and what this virus will continue to do as long as we allow it to continue spreading," the WHO director explained.
(c) 2021 City A.M., source Newspaper